Watch LIVE

Russian Plane Carrying More Than 220 People Crashes In Egypt, Officials Report No Survivors (UPDATED)

News

"I will keep hoping until the end that they are alive, but perhaps I will never see them again."

Relatives of the victims of a crashed Russian airliner with 217 passengers and seven crew aboard, help each other as they gathering at Pulkovo airport in St.Petersburg, Russia, Saturday, Oct. 31, 2015. Russia's civil air agency is expected to have a news conference shortly to talk about the Russian Metrojet passenger plane that Egyptian authorities say has crashed in Egypt's Sinai peninsula. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)

UPDATE 12:50 p.m.: A militant group affiliated with the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the plane crash in Egypt Saturday that killed all on board.

According to Reuters, the group has circulated a statement claiming responsibility for the Russian aircraft crash.

"The fighters of the Islamic State were able to down a Russian plane over Sinai province that was carrying over 220 Russian crusaders," the statement on Twitter read. "They were all killed, thanks be to God."

Videos have also circulated online that purport to show a plane being shot down although it is not clear if that plane was the passenger jet.

However, Russia's transport minister Maksim Sokolov said the claim by the group "can't be considered accurate," according to the Guardian.

Mokhtar Awad, an analyst with the Center for American Progress, also expressed doubts with the group's claim of responsibility in a statement to the Guardian.

"It doesn't state how they were able to 'down' the plane allegedly," Awad said. "Even the most sophisticated of portable surface-to-air missiles cannot reach that high an altitude and are only a threat during periods of take-off of landing, but the plane had already climbed to its target altitude (from what we know thus far) when it began to likely experience technical failures."

UPDATE 9:30 a.m.: U.S. officials offered their condolences to those who lost loved ones in the plane crash Saturday.

"We don't know any details about it, but obviously the initial reports represent tremendous tragedy, loss, and we extend our condolences to the families and all those concerned," U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said while on a visit to the former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan, according to the Associated Press.

UPDATE 8:25 a.m.: Russian President Vladamir Putin has declared Nov. 1 to be a day of mourning for the victims of the plane crash.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said he was "deeply shocked" and promised a thorough investigation into the crash.

UPDATE 8:10 a.m.: Egyptian officials said there are no survivors from the plane crash.

The Guardian reported that search and rescue officials had said they could hear voices from the wreckage.

"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 anonymous official told Reuters.

"There is another section of the plane with passengers inside that the rescue team is still trying to enter and we hope to find survivors, especially after hearing pained voices of people inside," the official said.

According to the Associated Press, the pilot of the aircraft reported experiencing technical difficulties with the plane and told air traffic controllers that he wanted to make an emergency landing before he lost contact with him.

Friends and family members gathered at the St. Petersburg airport on Saturday as it is believed that the majority of people on board were Russians.

"I am meeting my parents," Ella Smirnova, 25, told The Guardian. "I spoke to them last on the phone when they were already on the plane, and then I heard the news. I will keep hoping until the end that they are alive, but perhaps I will never see them again."

Original story below

---

CAIRO (AP) — A Russian aircraft carrying more than 220 people crashed Saturday in the Sinai Peninsula more than 20 minutes after takeoff from a Red Sea resort popular with Russian tourists, Egypt's Ministry of Civil Aviation said.

It is not immediately known whether there are any survivors among the 217 passengers and seven crew members but an Egyptian government spokesman said 50 ambulances were headed to the crash site to offer medical care if needed.

Adel Mahgoub, chairman of the state company that runs Egypt's civilian airports, said all passengers and crew were Russian citizens.

People gather at the airline information desk at of Russian airline Kogalymavia�s desk at Pulkovo airport in St.Petersburg, Russia, Saturday, Oct. 31, 2015, after a Russian airliner with 217 passengers and seven crew aboard crashed. Russia's civil air agency is expected to have a news conference shortly to talk about the Russian Metrojet passenger plane that Egyptian authorities say has crashed in Egypt's Sinai peninsula. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)

A ministry statement said Egyptian military search and rescue teams found the wreckage of the passenger jet in the Hassana area south of the city of el-Arish, an area in northern Sinai where Egyptian security forces are fighting a burgeoning Islamic militant insurgency led by a local affiliate of the extremist Islamic State group.

It said the plane, believed to be an Airbus model, took off from Sharm el-Sheikh shortly before 6 a.m. for St. Petersburg in Russia and disappeared from radar screens 23 minutes after takeoff. The reported time lapse between takeoff and loss of contact with the aircraft means that the plane was possibly flying at a cruising altitude of some 30,000 feet when it crashed.

Militants in northern Sinai have not to date shot down commercial airliners or fighter-jets. There have been persistent media reports that they have acquired Russian shoulder-fired, anti-aircraft missiles. But these types of missiles can only be effective against low-flying aircraft or helicopters. In January 2014, Sinai-based militants claimed to have shot down a military helicopter; Egyptian officials at the time acknowledged the helicopter had crashed, but gave no reason.

Earlier in the day, an Egyptian official with the government's Aviation Incidents Committee told local media that the plane had briefly lost contact but was now safely in Turkish airspace.

Later, the same official, Ayman al-Muqadem, said the plane has crashed and that the pilot, before losing contact, had radioed that the aircraft was experiencing technical problems and that he intended to try and land at the nearest airport. The aircraft crashed at a site near the el-Arish airport, he said.

Relatives of the victims of a crashed Russian airliner with 217 passengers and seven crew aboard, help each other as they gathering at Pulkovo airport in St.Petersburg, Russia, Saturday, Oct. 31, 2015. Russia's civil air agency is expected to have a news conference shortly to talk about the Russian Metrojet passenger plane that Egyptian authorities say has crashed in Egypt's Sinai peninsula. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)

It was not immediately possible to independently confirm that technical problems caused the plane to crash.

Roughly three million Russian tourists, or nearly a third of all visitors in 2014, come to Egypt every year, mostly to Red Sea resorts in Sinai or in mainland Egypt.

"It is too premature to detect the impact this will have on tourism. We need to know what happened first," Tourism Ministry spokeswoman Rasha Azazi told The Associated Press.

Most recent
All Articles