By Ahmed Abbas
Egyptian officials said that no survivors were found among the passengers of the Russian aircraft that crashed in Sinai early on Saturday. The Russian embassy in Egypt confirmed the same on its official twitter account.
The bodies of 100 passengers, including 17 children, were extracted from the plane wreckage, according to Egyptian aviation authorities.
According to a statement released by the Egyptian cabinet, 217 passengers were on board; 214 Russians and 3 Ukrainians.
Prime Minister Sherif Ismail went to Kabreet military airport, near Suez, to meet with Minister of Defense Sedki Sobhi and Chief Commander of the air forces to discuss further evacuation process to Cairo.
The attorney general of North Sinai also arrived to the location of the crash and ordered a thorough investigation of the aircraft black box after the workers were able to find it.
Airbus said in a statement that it will offer any technical help to the investigators.
Professor Abdallah El-Ghrory, professor of aviation engineering told the Daily News Egypt that it is difficult to identify the reason of the crash before analysing the wreckage and investigating the black box.
“It is also important to identify the last point of plane before disappearing from the radar; were the pilots sending signals or not? All this data is crucial to find out the cause,” said El-Ghrory.
The flight radar tracking service said on its Twitter account that the plane reached the height of 30,000 feet in 20 minutes then descended 5,500 feet in only one minute.
Egyptian rescue teams found the wreckage of the crashed Russian airplane near Al-Hassana, 35 km south of the coastal city of Al-Arish after a delay, caused by bad weather conditions, according to a statement by the Ministry of Aviation.
Russian news agency RIA Novosti said the aircraft witnessed engine technical problems the week prior its flight.
The cabinet announced all bodies will be transported to Cairo and 50 ambulances were directed to the crash site to assist transporting the bodies.
Egypt denied that the plane could have been shot by militants in Sinai, as reported by TASS Russian news agency. “It is impossible to target a 10 km far plane by a shoulder missile,” Mohammed Mansour, a blogger on military issues, told Daily News Egypt. The rapid loss of attitude and speed was witnessed in cases of technical problems in the two engines was probably the reason for the crash.
Russian authorities formed a crisis committee to address the incident in collaboration with the cabinet.
Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the Russian Minister of Emergency Situations to send rescue planes to assist Egypt. He also declared that 1 November will be a day of national mourning in Russia.
The Russian embassy in Egypt said they are collaborating with the cabinet to obtain further information.
In a statement, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi ordered the investigation committee to uncover the cause of the crash as fast as they can and collaborate with the Russian authorities.
The Airbus A-321 plane, operated by Kogalymavia and rebranded as Metrojet, took off from Sharm El-Sheikh on its way to the Russian city of St. Petersburg before disappearing from the radars of Egyptian aviation officials. The company said it will provide the victims’ relatives with free flights to Egypt.
Nearly 3.5m Russian tourists visit Egypt every year, making up to a third of the visitors.