The Sun (Malaysia)
Investigators probe Russian plane crash
> Cairo and Moscow reject IS claim of responsibility
CAIRO: International investigators have begun probing why a Russian airliner carrying 224 people crashed in a mountainous area of Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, killing everyone on board in one of the deadliest Airbus incidents of the past decade.
Flags flew at half mast on official buildings in Russia yesterday and entertainment television programmes were cancelled as part of a national day of mourning for the victims, most of them Russians aged from 10 months to 77 years.
Cairo and Moscow have both rejected the claim from a militant group affiliated with Islamic State (IS) that it downed the aircraft flown by the Kogalymavia airline, operating under the name Metrojet, en route from Sharm el-Sheikh to St Petersburg.
Egyptian Prime Minister Sharif Ismail said experts had confirmed the militants could not down a plane at the 9,000m altitude the Airbus 321 was flying, while Russian transport minister Maxim Sokolov said the claim “cannot be considered accurate”.
The plane’s black box data recorders have been recovered and sent for analysis.
Late on Saturday, Sokolov and Russian emergencies minister Vladimir Puchkov arrived in Cairo with a team of experts to help with an Egyptian-led investigation.
Two air accident investigators from France – Airbus’s home country – are also to travel to Egypt along with six experts from the aerospace giant to help with the probe.
Germany’s Lufthansa, Emirates and Air France all said they would halt flights over Sinai until the reasons behind the crash became clear.
The plane, carrying 214 Russian and three Ukrainian passengers and seven crew, lost contact with air traffic control 23 minutes after taking off from the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.
“Unfortunately, all passengers of Kogalymavia flight 9268 Sharm el-SheikhSaint Petersburg have died. We issue condolences to family and friends,” the Russian embassy in Cairo said.
Wreckage and dead bodies were found scattered over an area of six to eight square kilometres, around 100km south of the town of El-Arish, Egyptian officials said. – AFP