Sharm el-Sheikh airport. Image: JHenryW/CC BY-SA 3.0
More than 200 people were on board the Airbus plane that was to fly from Sharm el-Sheikh to St. Petersburg. A technical defect is cited as the cause
Egyptian Prime Minister now officially confirmed that a Russian passenger plane crashed inside the Sinai Peninsula. According to the Egyptian government, at least 45 ambulances are said to be on their way to al-Hasana in Sinai. Ria Novosti gives the suspected crash site as "south of Al-Arisha" to.
The plane was reported to have had 224 people on board, mostly tourists from Russia; the Russian air traffic authority Rosaviatsiya spoke in an initial reaction (see below) of 212 passengers and 7 crew members.
In the morning, Egyptian media reported that the air traffic control had lost contact with the plane after it took off from the airport of the tourist resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.
The plane of the Russian airline Kogalymavia (Kolavia/Metrojet) had Saint Petersburg as destination airport. It is said to have disappeared from radar screens in Cypriot airspace.
According to a report this morning by the Russian news agency Tass, the plane was due to take off at 12:10 Moscow time ( 10.10 a.m. CET) at the destination airport St. Petersburg arrive. The Russian air traffic authority Rosaviatsiya confirmed that the contact with the plane over the Sinai Peninsula was lost. Their spokesman Sergey Izvolsky is quoted:
According to preliminary reports, the Airbus A320 belonging to Kagalymavia, Flight 92-68, en route from Sharm el-Sheikh to St. Petersburg, was in the air. Petersburg has taken off at 6:51 am Moscow time. At 7:14am it failed to contact Larnaca (Cyprus) and disappeared from radars. The plane carried 212 passengers and seven crewmembers.
The Russian news agency also said that Cairo International Airport received an emergency landing request from a Russian plane this morning. The captain of the plane is said to have spoken about problems with the radio communication.
At the time of contact, the aircraft was reportedly in 9.000 meters above the ground. After that they lost contact. According to Flightradar 24, the plane lost altitude very quickly.
In the meantime, according to al-Arabiya, irritation was caused by the fact that the head of the Egyptian air accident authority, Ajman al-Mokdam, had initially reported that the plane was safe according to the Russian airline and had already contacted the Turkish airspace supervisory authority. Meanwhile, however, Egyptian local media had already reported on the crash.
Now Ajman al-Mokdam reports that rescue forces had found first trummer parts of the Airbus 321. The search for the cause of the accident will begin as soon as possible, he is quoted as saying.
Speculations about whether a terrorist attack could be the cause are also to be expected. The Beit al-Maqlis jihadist militia, which has sworn allegiance to IS, operates in the Sinai (cf. IS: First Sinai, then Gaza? and Sinai: The next Talibanistan?).
SupplementThe head of the Egyptian air accident authority, Ajman al-Mokdam, has meanwhile declared that the plane crashed due to a technical error. "There are no signs that the plane was shot down", Ria Novosti also reports.
There it is reported that the crew at the airport of Sharm al Sheikh had complained about problems with the engine. According to Flightradar24, the aircraft had been in operation for about 18 years.