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 217 passengers and 7 crewmembers, he added. Twenty-four of the passengers were children.
The Russian embassy in Egypt initially said all on board were Russian citizens. Later, the Belorussian embassy said one of the passengers was Belorussian. Egyptian authorities said three of the victims were Ukrainian, but Kiev didn’t immediately confirm that.
gyptian 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.
The plane was destroyed and all passengers and crewmembers were killed in the crash, Egyptian military and rescue officials told AP. Earlier, media reports suggested there might have been some survivors.
The Egyptian military told RT 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 in the Hassana area 35 km 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.
The tourist operator Brisco charted the ill-fated flight. The company is a business affiliate of Metrojet and they said the captain of the Airbus was an experienced pilot familiar with the aircraft.
“The captain was Velary Nemov, who has 12,000 flight hours under his belt, so he is definitely an experienced man. Of those, some 3,800 hours he spent piloting Airbus 320s. So we don’t have any reason to suspect human error from the crew,” a spokesman for Brisco said.
— Flightradar24 (@flightradar24) October 31, 2015