Egypt’s independent investigation committee into the Metrojet flight 9268 crash has referred the case to the attorney general.
The committee said on March 17th that the decision was made after they received an official report from Russia suggesting that “criminal activity” was behind the deadly crash that killed all 224 people aboard.
The plane, heading to St. Petersburg, Russia, went down in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula on 31st October last year.
Egyptian authorities have said for the first time that the Russian commercial jet that crashed on 31st October last year in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula was deliberately downed by terrorists.
Metrojet flight 9268 was heading to St. Petersburg, Russia, when it went down, killing all 224 people on-board. Islamic State had immediately claimed the responsibility, and Moscow’s investigation report had also claimed that a bomb downed the plane. However, the local authorities previously rejected these claims and maintained that a technical fault caused the accident.
In a television speech on February 24th, the Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said, “Has terrorism ended? No it has not, but it will if we unite. Whoever downed the Russian plane, what did he mean? He meant to hit tourism, and to hit relations with Russia.”
Sisi’s comments are the first official indication from Egypt that the plane was deliberately crashed.
In the wake of Metrojet flight 9268 crash, the Egyptian government has hired a London-based consultancy firm for auditing its airport security.
The firm ‘Control Risks’ will start by inspecting the airports in Cairo and Sharm El Sheikh.
According to Egypt’s Civil Aviation Minister Hossam Kamal, “All Egyptian airports apply international standards in airport security… The air transport industry globally is facing several challenges… Airport security has risen to the top of these challenges, especially with the upsurge of terrorism in different parts of the world.”
Control Risks’ chief executive for Middle East and North Africa Andreas Carleton-Smith said, “There will be a comprehensive assessment, and this supports extensive work already undertaken in recent months by Egyptian and international government experts…We will be starting work directly to take forward this critical initiative.”
The Airbus A321 operating as Flight 7K9268 by Metrojet had 217 passengers and seven crew aboard and was en route from Sharm el Sheikh International Airport to Saint Petersburg-Pulkovo Airport when it crashed close to al Hassana, in a mountainous area of the Sinai peninsula, where there are insurgents. (Note in the images, it does not look very mountainous, but perhaps it is a plateau.) The plane was in the air about twenty-three minutes before it went off the grid. Deputy St. Petersburg Gov. Igor Albin said 25 children were among the dead. Nearly all the passengers were Russian tourists. Three were Ukraine. (We are looking for the passenger manifest.) Metrojet is also known as Kogalymavia.
The plane slowed dramatically before the crash. Pilots apparently experienced technical difficulties and told ATC they wanted to divert. The black boxes have been recovered. Forty-five ambulances were dispatched to the crash site to recover the bodies. The plane was 18 years 6 months old. Pilot Valery Nemov reportedly had 12,000 air hours of experience, including 3,860 in A321s.
Forensic experts were at the Pulkovo Airport in the special reception area designated for families of victims, where they gathered DNA to assist in cataloging the remains.
IS claimed on its twitter page that they took the plane down to punish Russia for its military campaign in Syria. Russia dismisses this claim.
Egypt’s Civil Aviation Minister said communication from the plane and ATC was normal; however, the Russian Embassy in Cairo says that Egyptian officials told them the pilot was trying to make an emergency landing.
The airline made an official statement:
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