A Russian Airbus passenger jet has crashed in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, killing all 224 passengers and crew on board.
Kogalymavia flight 9268 had just left Egypt’s Sharm el-Sheikh airport and was bound for St Petersburg when it disappeared from radar screens early on Saturday morning.
Egyptian military aircraft later found the wreckage of the plane at a “mountainous site” in the Hasana area of the Sinai peninsula, approximately 35 kilometres south of the Mediterranean Sea.
According to one security officer at the crash site, the plane had been split into two pieces: “a small part of the tail end that burned and a larger part that crashed into a rock”.
The 217 passengers and seven crew on board were mainly Russian, but included three Ukrainians; 17 were children.
— Flightradar24 (@flightradar24) October 31, 2015
Russian transport minister Maksim Sokolov has dismissed claims that Islamic State (IS) militants were responsible for downing the plane, saying “such reports cannot be considered true”.
“We are in close touch with our colleagues from Egypt and their air traffic authorities, and they have nothing at the moment which could confirm such fabrications,” Mr Sokolov told news agency Interfax.
The cause of the crash is as yet unknown, though the black boxes have been recovered from the crash site. “Our aircraft was in full working order, our crew was experienced, our pilot had a great deal of flying experience, so we don’t know (what caused the crash),” said airline spokeswoman Oxana Golovina.
Russian president Vladimir Putin has instructed prime minister Dmitry Medvedev to launch an investigation into the KGL9268 crash, and expressed his “deepest condolences” to the victims’ families.
November 1 was declared a national day of mourning in Russia for the disaster, with national flags to be lowered across the country.
Several world leaders have also expressed their sympathy, including Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi, German chancellor Angela Merkel, and Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, with the latter telling Mr Putin that “conditions will be created for the broadest possible participation of Russian experts in the investigation of the plane crash”. – Jake Nelson
Top photo of Egyptian rescue teams transporting the bodies of those killed in the Sinai plane crash, from BBC’s TV coverage.