Russian Passenger Jet Crashes in Egypt
Photo via Wikimedia Commons
UPDATE: 6 pm ET 10/31/15
The AP announced that the black box has been found and will be examined by investigators.
Natalya Trukhacheva, wife of co-pilot Sergei Trukachev, said in an interview with NTV, Russia's state-controlled TV station, that her husband related negative comments to one of their daughters about the plane's condition, the AP said.
She said the daughter "called him up before he flew out. He complained before the flight that the technical condition of the aircraft left much to be desired."
As part of the investigation, Russian authorities raided the offices of Metrojet as well as Brisco, the tour company that chartered the plane, the AP said. The premises was searched and employees were questioned. Also, according to Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin, per the AP, agents took fuel samples from the Russian airport where the downed aircraft spent its last night before the ill-fated final flight.
UPDATE: 5:10 pm ET 10/31/15
CNN reported that Islamists militants in the Sinai with ISIS connections claimed responsibility for downing the Metrojet airline, per an online statement.
However, Russian Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov said the assertion that the plane was destroyed by an anti-aircraft missile "cannot be considered reliable," CNN said, citing Russian state news agency RIA Novosti.
For the time being, Lufthansa and Air France are rerouting flights that would normally go over the region.
"We will keep that measure in place as long as we are not sure of the circumstances and the reasons of the Metrojet crash," Lufthansa spokesperson Bettina Rittberger said to CNN.
A Russian commercial airliner with 217 passengers and seven crew aboard flying from the resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, to St. Petersburg, Russia has crashed, the Associated Press reported. Egyptian officials said there were no survivors.
Metrojet Flight 7K9268, an Airbus A321-200 filled with Russian tourists went down early Saturday, local time, in the Sinai Peninsula near the Egyptian city of el-Arish, the AP said.
An Egyptian aviation official told the AP that the pilot radioed in a report of technical difficulties and the intention to make an emergency landing at the nearest airport before contact was lost with Egyptian air traffic controllers 23 minutes after takeoff.
The AP did note that the area of the crash is a hotbed of conflict between Egyptian forces and Islamic insurgents.
Both Egypt and Russia have commenced investigations.
Adel Mahgoub, chair of the state company that runs Egypt's civilian airports, stated to the AP that the plane had passed technical checks at Sharm el-Sheikh's airport prior to departure. Mahgoub added that experts would be consulting security camera footage of the plane at the airport for any clues.
Egypt's civil aviation minister reported to the AP that an investigative team is at the crash site examining debris and looking for the flight data and cockpit voice recorders — the black boxes.
An emergency team from Russia is on the way to the crash site as ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin, the AP said, adding that Russia's Investigative Committee, the nation's top investigative organization, will be looking for evidence of flight safety procedure violation.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry expressed his sympathies while visiting the former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan, according to the AP, saying "We don't know any details about it, but obviously the initial reports represent tremendous tragedy (and) loss, and we extend our condolences to the families and all those concerned."
The Kremlin declared Nov. 1 a day of mourning for the plane crash victims.
Around three million Russians visit Egypt every year, the AP stated — nearly one-third of all visitors in 2014. Most vacation at Red Sea resorts in Sinai or in mainland Egypt.
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