The Russian airplane which crashed on the mountains of Sinai had been inspected before departing from Sharm el-Sheikh and was in “good condition”. A tragedy with no survivors: all the 224 people who were aboard died. Nearly all of them were Russian citizens.
The aircraft had taken off from Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, and was direct to St. Petersburg. The aircraft, an Airbus A-321, was manufactured in 1997 and had accumulated 56thousand hours of flight with almost 21thousand flights, but it was not “at risk”. Yet something happened, to the point of causing the crash.
A militant group active in Sinai and affiliated to the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS) claimed the attack right after the crash. A brief statement issued by the jihadists on a social network states that “the soldiers of the caliphate managed to bring down a Russian airplane in Sinai”. Nonetheless, Egyptian authorities argue that the airplane fell down due to a a “an equipment malfunction” and exclude the possibility of an attack. Also Russian authorities categorically deny that ISIS played a role in what happened.
Experts cited by BBC argue that the jihadists of the ‘Province of Sinai’ are in possess of a land-air missile launcher, but that the aircraft was traveling at an altitude of about 9,500 meters, which is out of the missile launchers’ range. Air France and Lufthansa suspended their flights to Sinai as a precautionary measure.
The remains of the victims of the accident were transported to a military airport near the Suez canal. All of the victims had been in Sharm el-Sheikh on holidays. Among them there were also 17 children and teenagers, and seven crew members. St Petersburg’s airport, Pulkovo, where the Airbus A321 from the Kogalymavia was supposed to land, fell prey to sorrow and despair. Russian television interrupted all programs to broadcast the grief of the victims’ relatives who cannot hold back their tears. Russian civil protection has sent over 30 psychologists to the site.
In the meantime, at the St. Petersburg airport, health-care operators are collecting blood samples from the relatives. They will be used, if necessary, to identify the victims later on.