Russian airliner crashes in Sinai, all 224 aboard presumed dead (Roundup)

Cairo/Moscow, Oct 31 (IANS) A Russian airliner crashed in central Sinai in Egypt on Saturday with 224 people on board, all of whom are presumed dead, media reports said.

Kolavia flight 7K9268, an Airbus A321, enroute to St. Petersburg, went off the radar 23 minutes after taking off from Sharm El-Sheikh International Airport. The plane was to contact air traffic control in Turkish Cyprus’ Larnaca after leaving Egypt’s airspace, but failed to do so.

It disappeared from radar screens when travelling at 31,000 ft. The plane started to drop very fast, losing 1,500m in one minute before coverage was lost.

That crash was due to a “technical failure” and was not shot down, pilot Ayman Al-Mokadem, who is heading a committee to monitor the crash’s aftermath, stated.

Al-Mokadem said that the pilot sensed a technical failure and reported to the aviation authorities that he wanted to land at the nearest airport, Egypt’s state-run Al Ahram news reported.

An aviation team is on their way to extract the black boxes to determine the reason for the crash. Rescue workers reported that they could hear voices as they started recovering the bodies from the debris.

A death toll is yet to be announced.

The pilot seemed to crash while attempting to land in Al-Arish’s airport in North Sinai, Al-Mokadem added.

At least 45 ambulances have been dispatched to the crash site, a cabinet statement revealed.

The plane was carrying 217 passengers and seven crew members. Seventeen of the passengers were children. According to the Russian embassy in Egypt, all on board were Russian citizens, RT news said in its report.

The crash site was discovered hours later in a desolate mountainous area of central Sinai.

The Egyptian military said entry to the site may be difficult due to the volatile security situation in the area. Large parts of the peninsula are dangerous due to the presence of militants, with only coastal areas in the north and south adequately guarded by security forces.

The crash site is in the Hassana area 35 km south of Arish, the largest city in the Sinai.

The last big Russian airline accident happened in November 2013, when Tatarstan Airlines flight 363 crashed at Kazan International Airport while attempting to land. Fifty people died in the incident.

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