A Russian plane that crashed in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula Saturday morning killed all 224 people, including a recently updated total of 25 children. In clear skies, the Airbus A321-200 operated by MetroJet dropped off radar just 23 minutes after leaving the Egyptian resort area of Sharm el-Sheikh in route to St. Petersburg, Russia.
Reports CNN on Nov. 1: “All 224 people aboard Kogalymavia Flight 9268 died in the crash Saturday morning that left debris strewn across a remote area of a region plagued by a violent Islamic insurgency. Footage from the scene showed mangled wreckage and piles of belongings from the plane spilled over a largely flat, barren landscape.”
Investigators are working to determine the cause of the crash; the plane’s flight recorders have been retrieved and sent to Cairo for analysis. According to Egyptian Airports Co. chief Adel Al-Mahjoob, the plane’s crash is “most likely the result of technical failure,” though he noted the plane did pass standard system checks prior to takeoff.
Claims are now surfacing from ISIS-affiliated militants, stationed near the Sinai Peninsula and locked in conflict with Egypt’s military, that they brought down Flight 9268. Officials in Russia and Egypt have been quick to deny those claims, and stated no proof has been brought forth to back the militant’s statement.
“The soldiers of the caliphate succeeded in bringing down a Russian plane in Sinai,” said the statement circulated on social media, according to the AFP.
Russian Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov said the ISIS claim “must not be considered reliable,” reports the NY Times. According to officials, the militants only have shoulder mounted anti-aircraft missiles with a maximum target range of 14,000 feet. Flight 9268 was at 30,000 feet when it went off radar and began it’s crash descent. Some are suggesting however that the flight was struck during takeoff.
Despite the assurances that ISIS cannot be responsible, all craft with flight plans over Sinai have been rerouted. “We will keep that measure in place as long as we are not sure of the circumstances and the reasons of the Metrojet crash,” commented German airline Lufthansa spokeswoman Bettina Rittberger.
Adds USA Today: “The Federal Aviation Administration has long warned U.S. airlines against flying over the Sinai because of the risk of hazards from extremists. The latest warning March 30 advised airlines to fly at least 26,000 feet above the Sinai, to stay out of range of anti-aircraft weapons, mortars, rockets and small-arms fire around airports on the peninsula.”
Egyptian Civil Aviation Minister Hossam Kamel said reports that the pilot or co-pilot complained of technical issues with the craft were untrue. “There was nothing abnormal before the plane crash,” he said. “It suddenly disappeared from the radar.”
“The plane split into two, a small part on the tail end that burned and a larger part that crashed into a rock. We have extracted at least 100 bodies and the rest are still inside,” an unidentified Egyptian official told the Reuters news agency. “I now see a tragic scene. A lot of dead on the ground and many died while strapped to their seats.”
Check as updates are made available on the Russian plane crash.