While the Kremlin starts a probe into the crash of a Russian passenger aircraft in Egypt, ISIS claims responsibility for the downing of the plane, an incident that claimed the lives of 224 people, including 217 passengers and 7 crewmembers.
An Airbus A321 plane Source: Maria Lystseva / TASS
The wreckage of a Russian Airbus A321 plane, which apparently crashed while en route from Sharm el-Sheikh to St. Petersburg on Oct. 31, has been discovered in Egypt.
Earlier in the morning the Russian Federal Air Transport Agency (also known as Rosaviatsiya) possesses information indicating that an Airbus A321 plane en route from Egypt to St. Petersburg disappeared from radar screens.
"An A321 plane, Flight 9268, departed Sharm el-Sheikh for St. Petersburg at 6:51 a.m. today. Preliminary findings indicate that contact with the plane was lost and it disappeared from radar screens over Larnaka at 7:14 a.m. No contact with the aircraft has been established and it has not appeared on radars since then," Sergei Izvolsky, a Rosaviatsiya spokesperson, told Interfax, a news agency.
The plane was carrying 224 people, including 217 passengers and 7 crewmembers.
All passengers on board an aircraft of the Metroject airlines (fromer Kogalymavia) are Russian citizens, some Russian media reported with reference to a source from the Russian embassy to Egypt.
Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin has instructed Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev to put together a government commission to probe the crash of a MetroJet passenger aircraft in Egypt, the Kremlin press service reported.
The BBC's Orla Guerin in Cairo reports that there might be speculation about militant involvement in the crash: the Sinai peninsula, the place where the incident took place, has an active militant network, including local Jihadists affiliated with the notorious Islamic State of Iraq and the Greater Syria (ISIS), a non-state actor, against which Russia launched a military campaign in late September.
At the same time, a militant group affiliated to ISIS in Egypt claimed responsibility for the downing of the Russian plane, the group said in a Twitter statement, as Reuters reportred.
While Egypt's authorities rule out the possibility of a terror attack on the aircraft, some media report that the main reason of the crash might be a "technical failure."
Among other possible causes of the crash analyzed by specialists are the human factor and poor weather conditions combined with complicated mountainous terrain, a source with knowledge of the situation told Interfax on Oct. 31.
According to the International Air Transport Association report, flying a commercial airline in Russia is about four times as dangerous as the world average (the average that, of course, includes Africa, which is constantly competing with the former Soviet states for worst regional air safety), to quote openDemocracy media outlet. Between 2005-2014, at least 766 people were killed in airplane disasters in Russia.