Sunday 25 September 2016

Egypt plane crash: A pink sandal with flowers serves as stark reminder to the 17 children who died

At Egypt crash scene, suitcases piled near charred wreckage

Mohamed Abdel Ghany

Published 01/11/2015 | 15:05

A child's shoe is seen in front of debris from a Russian airliner which crashed at the Hassana area in Arish city, north Egypt, November 1, 2015.
REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany
A child's shoe is seen in front of debris from a Russian airliner which crashed at the Hassana area in Arish city, north Egypt, November 1, 2015. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany
A debris from a Russian airliner is seen at its crash site at the Hassana area in Arish city, north Egypt, November 1, 2015. Russia has grounded Airbus A321 jets flown by the Kogalymavia airline, Interfax news agency reported on Sunday, after one of its fleet crashed in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, killing all 224 people on board. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany
Egyptian military investigators stand near the debris of a Russian airliner at the site of its crash at the Hassana area in Arish city, north Egypt, November 1, 2015. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany
An Egyptian army soldier stands guard near debris from a Russian airliner at its crash siteat the Hassana area in Arish city, north Egypt, November 1, 2015. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany
A military investigator from Russia stands near the debris of a Russian airliner at its crash site at the Hassana area in Arish city, north Egypt, November 1, 2015. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany
Egyptian army soldiers collect belongings of passengers from the crash site of a Russian airliner at the Hassana area in Arish city, north Egypt, November 1, 2015. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany
Russian Emergencies Minister Vladimir Puchkov looks at debris from a Russian airliner at its crash site at the Hassana area in Arish city, north Egypt, November 1, 2015. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

In a desolate area of stony ground, little remains from the Russian airliner that crashed in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula except its blackened wreckage and a heap of colourful suitcases.

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Rescue teams scoured the area where the Airbus A321 came down on Saturday, collecting into a pile the dead holidaymakers' belongings that were spread around the main part of the wreckage.

An Egyptian military helicopter flies over debris from a Russian airliner which crashed at the Hassana area in Arish city, north Egypt, November 1, 2015. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany
An Egyptian military helicopter flies over debris from a Russian airliner which crashed at the Hassana area in Arish city, north Egypt, November 1, 2015. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

A pink child's sandal decorated with white flowers lay among the debris, a reminder that 17 children were among the 224 people on board the flight from the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh to St Petersburg, all of whom died.

At least 163 of the bodies have already been recovered from the jet, operated by the Russian airline Kogalymavia under the brand name Metrojet, and moved to hospitals and morgues in the capital Cairo.

On Sunday morning, about 100 Russian rescuers and investigators joined the search for remaining bodies and evidence to shed light on what happened.

Here and there clothing could be seen, packed by tourists on their way home from Sharm al-Sheikh, a favourite of Russians seeking winter sun.

The debris from a Russian airliner is seen at its crash site at the Hassana area in Arish city, north Egypt, November 1, 2015. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany
The debris from a Russian airliner is seen at its crash site at the Hassana area in Arish city, north Egypt, November 1, 2015. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

Parts of the jet's wreckage were blackened and charred, with one section forming heaps of twisted metal, although the blue Metrojet logo was still visible on its broken tail fin.

As the Russian investigators moved slowly across the site, Egyptian military helicopters buzzed overhead, combing the wider area for debris - or bodies - not yet found.

A militant group affiliated to Islamic State in Egypt, Sinai Province, said in a statement it had brought down the plane "in response to Russian airstrikes that killed hundreds of Muslims on Syrian land", but Russian and Egyptian officials dismissed the claim.

Insurgents based in Sinai province have killed hundreds of Egyptian soldiers and police, and have recently also attacked Western targets.

Faded smears of blood could be seen at the crash site but all the bodies found so far have already been removed, with most now lying in Cairo's Zeinhom morgue awaiting DNA identification.

Russian experts arrived in Egypt late on Saturday night. Airport sources said they brought with them DNA samples from relatives to help identify the dead.

An Egyptian military helicopter flies over debris from a Russian airliner as soldiers collect belongings of passengers from the crash site at the Hassana area in Arish city, north Egypt, November 1, 2015. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany
An Egyptian military helicopter flies over debris from a Russian airliner as soldiers collect belongings of passengers from the crash site at the Hassana area in Arish city, north Egypt, November 1, 2015. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany
Military investigators from Russia check debris from a Russian airliner at its crash site at the Hassana area in Arish city, north Egypt, November 1, 2015. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany
Military investigators from Russia check debris from a Russian airliner at its crash site at the Hassana area in Arish city, north Egypt, November 1, 2015. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

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