Russian plane crashes with more than 200 people on board

A RUSSIAN passenger plane with more than 200 people on board has crashed in central Sinai, Egypt.

The Airbus A-321, which belongs to the airline Kogalymavia, took off from Sharm el-Sheikh and was due to land in St Petersburg, Russia. The Egyptian Prime Minister has confirmed the crash and formed a cabinet level crisis committee to deal with the crash.

The aviation ministry said the plane went down in a "desolate mountainous area of central Sinai soon after daybreak", according to Reuters.

Egyptian rescue teams have now located the plane. A security officer at the scene reportedly said the plane was "completely destroyed".

Egyptian security sources say there is no indication the plane was shot down.

The majority of the passengers are said to be Russian tourists, latest reports say the plane was carrying 217 passengers and seven crew.

According to FlightTrader, flight 7K 9268 was descending before signal was lost. The plan reportedly disappeared from radar screens 23 minutes after taking off.

WHAT WE KNOW

  • Airbus disappeared from radar after leaving Sharm el-Sheikh
  • It was carrying 217 passengers, including 17 children, and seven crew
  • Most of those on board are believed to be Russian tourists
  • More than 100 bodies have been recovered from wreckage
  • Egyptian officials say the pilot had reported technical difficulties

Ranyah Sabry, a BBC correspondent in Cairo, reports that the plane was 30 miles away from the airport where it was heading to make an emergency landing when it crashed.

The plane's black box has reportedly been found in the wreckage.

Adel Mahgoub, chairman of the state company that runs Egypt's civilian airports, said all passengers and crew were Russian citizens.

Russia's Premier League says all football games today will start with a minute of silence.

Vladimir Putin has expressed his condolences to families of those killed in the crash and ordered the Russian government to launch an official investigation.

At least five children have been found dead so far. The rescue operation continues.

The plane wreckage is said to have been split into two parts, with bodies seen strapped into some of the seats.

The Egyptian officer who claims to have heard voices coming from the wreckage told Reuters: "There is another section of the plane with passengers inside that the rescue team is still trying to enter and we hope to find survivors especially after hearing pained voices of people inside."

Israel, which borders the Sinai peninsula, has offered its assistance to Russian and Egypt with surveillance and search efforts.

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