Friday, 6 November 2015

Putin suspends Russian flights to Egypt after Sinai plane crash

The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, has suspended flights to Egypt, a Kremlin spokesman has said.

The move came after the head of the Russian federal security service suggested it would be “expedient” to suspend flights until the conclusion of the investigation into what brought down a Russian-operated airliner over the Sinai peninsula on Saturday, killing all 224 people on board.
                     An Orthodox priest looks on as a plane returns bodies of victims of the Russian plane crash in Egypt. 
                    Photograph: Dmitry Lovetsky/EPA
Russia had previously suggested the UK was pre-judging the outcome of the investigation when it suspended flights on Wednesday to and from the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh. The UK prime minister, David Cameron, said it was “more likely than not” a bomb brought down the Metrojet Airbus A321-200.
“I think it will be reasonable to suspend all Russian flights to Egypt until we determine the real reasons of what happened,” Russian intelligence chief Alexander Bortnikov said in televised comments. “It concerns tourist flights most of all.”
Putin had ordered the Russian government to establish mechanisms to bring its citizens home, the spokesman said.
The Russian suspension, covering all of Egypt, is even more sweeping than that imposed by Britain, which had halted flights to Sharm el-Sheikh only.
The UK government’s attempts to return stranded British holidaymakers from Sharm el-Sheikh have descended into chaos, as easyJet, one of the main airlines with routes to the airport contradicted senior UK and Egyptian officials over claims that Cairo was blocking unscheduled “rescue flights”.
Two easyJet flights left Sharm on Friday morning, but other passengers at the airport were sent back to their hotels, with the airline saying Egyptian authorities had prevented a further eight planes from arriving.

About 3,500 Britons have suffered delayed flights. In extraordinary scenes, Britain’s ambassador to Cairo, John Casson, was heckled by irate passengers who shouted: “What is the problem and when can we go home?”Egypt’s civil aviation ministry denied it was blocking any flights but said the numbers were limited by airport capacity.
On Thursday night, the day after the British decision to suspend flights, Barack Obama said the US was taking “very seriously” the possibility that a bomb caused the plane to crash.
The Islamic State group, which has not generally pursued “spectacular” attacks outside its base in Syria, has claimed responsibility for bringing down the plane, but Russian and Egyptian officials have said the claim is not credible. Russia is conducting an air war in Syria against Isis militants, who have promised retaliation.
Egypt which stands to lose millions of dollars from its vital tourism industry maintains there is nothing wrong with security at the Sharm el-Sheikh airport, which each year welcomes thousands of vacationers to the resort.
Source: TheGuardian

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