Russian passenger aircraft with 220 onboard crashes over Egypt (UPDATE 4)
Details added (first version posted on 11:42)
A Russian plane carrying almost 220 people from Egypt to Russia disappeared from radars, and crashed in central Sinai, according to Russian and Egyptian authorities.
Kolavia Flight 7K9268, an Airbus A321, went off radar 23 minutes after taking off from Sharm El-Sheikh International Airport, Sergey Izvolskiy told the media citing preliminary data.
The plane was carrying 212 passengers and 7 crewmembers, he added. Seventeen of the passengers were children. According to the Russian embassy in Egypt, all on board were Russian citizens.
Egyptian Prime Minister Sherif Ismail confirmed that the Russian plane did go missing over Sinai and said a cabinet-level crisis committee has been convened to deal with the incident.
The crash site was discovered hours later in a desolate mountainous area of central Sinai, Egypt's aviation ministry reported.
All passengers and crewmembers are presumed to have been killed in the crash, Egyptian sources said.
The Egyptian military said access to the crash site may be difficult for the press due to the volatile security situation in the Sinai. Large parts of the peninsula are dangerous due to the presence of militants, with only coastal areas in the north and south adequately guarded by security forces. The crash site is some 100 kilometers south of Arish, the largest city in the Sinai.
The flight was traveling from the Egyptian resort to St. Petersburg. It belonged to the Kogalymavia airline, which also uses the brand name Metrojet, an operator popular among Russian tourists going to Egypt.
The plane was supposed to contact air traffic in Turkish Cyprus' Larnaca after leaving Egypt's airspace, but failed to do so.
A source at Sharm El-Sheikh Airport told RIA Novosti the pilot of the missing plane requested a change of course, saying the jet would have to land in Cairo.
The source said the crew of the crashed plane had complained to the airport's technical service that the jet had engine problems.
Metrojet had a fatal incident in 2011, when one of its planes caught fire on a runway in Surgut Airport in Russia's Urals. Three people died and 40 were injured as the plane burned out in just 10 minutes.
The last large-scale Russian airline incident happened in November 2013, when Tatarstan Airlines Flight 363 crashed at Kazan International Airport while attempting to land. Fifty people died in the incident.