Thursday 29 September 2016

Egypt plane crash: Pictures show wreckage on site as authorities announce they have found both black boxes

* The Egyptian Prime Minister have visited scene of plane crash in Sinai Peninsula
* Pictures show wreckage and clothing around crash site
* Egyptian authorities say both black boxes have been found
* Reuters are reporting that Islamic State have claimed responsibility for the plane crash
* Egyptian paramedics have begun removing the remains from scene at Sinai
* However, Russian government is disputing this
* Russian government minister said the group's claims 'can't be considered accurate'
* Russian airliner carrying 224 passengers and crew crashed in Eypt's Sinai Peninsula
* Plane lost radar contact and plummeted from its cruising altitude, killing all aboard
* 17 children were on board
* Passengers believed to be mainly holidaymakers flying back to Russia from popular tourist destination Sharm el Sheikh
* Security source told Reuters initial examination shows crash due to 'technical fault'
* Source said plane 'landed in vertical fashion' into rocks
* The plane 'split in two'
* Plane's black box has been found
* Russian President Vladimir Putin has declared Sunday a day of mourning
* 'We are hearing a lot of telephones ringing, most likely belonging to the victims' - rescue team

Yusri Mohammed, Ahmed Mohamed Hassan and Pat Flynn

Published 31/10/2015 | 14:25

Egypt's Prime Minister Sherif Ismail looks at the remains of a Russian airliner after it crashed in central Sinai near El Arish city, north Egypt, October 31, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer
Egypt's Prime Minister Sherif Ismail looks at the remains of a Russian airliner after it crashed in central Sinai near El Arish city, north Egypt, October 31, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer
In this image released by the Prime Minister's office, Sherif Ismail, right, looks at the remains of a crashed passenger jet in Hassana Egypt, Friday, Oct. 31, 2015. (Suliman el-Oteify, Egypt Prime Minister's Office via AP)
In this image released by the Prime Minister's office, Sherif Ismail, right, looks at the remains of a crashed passenger jet in Hassana Egypt, Friday, Oct. 31, 2015. (Suliman el-Oteify, Egypt Prime Minister's Office via AP)
Egyptian soldiers and rescue crews wait to transport the bodies of victims of a Russian airliner which crashed, in central Sinai near El Arish city, north Egypt, October 31, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer
Egypt's Prime Minister Sherif Ismail (L) and Tourism Minister Hisham Zaazou arrive at the site where a Russian airliner crashed, in central Sinai near El Arish city, north Egypt, October 31, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer
Egypt's Prime Minister Sherif Ismail (4rth R) listen to Egyptian team from police and army at the remines of a plane crash at the desert in central Sinai near El Arish city north of Egypt, October 31, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer
Clothes are pictured on the ground at the site where a Russian airliner crashed in central Sinai near El Arish city, north Egypt, October 31, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer
Egypt's Prime Minister Sherif Ismail (C) looks at the remines of a plane crash at the desert in central Sinai near El Arish city north of Egypt, October 31, 2015. Ismail said on Saturday it was impossible to determine the cause of the Russian plane crash until the black box was examined but that no "irregular" activities were believed to be behind it. REUTERS/Stringer
Egypt's Prime Minister Sherif Ismail (L) speaks with Egypt's Defense Minister Sedki Sobhi (2nd L) at the site where a Russian airliner crashed in central Sinai near El Arish city, north Egypt, October 31, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer
Egypt's Prime Minister Sherif Ismail (C) and Egypt's Defense Minister Sedki Sobhi (2nd L) walk at the site where a Russian airliner crashed in central Sinai near El Arish city, north Egypt, October 31, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer
Egypt's Prime Minister Sherif Ismail (R) listens to rescue workers as he looks at the remains of a Russian airliner after it crashed in central Sinai near El Arish city, north Egypt, October 31, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer
In this image released by the Prime Minister's office, Sherif Ismail, third right, examines the flight data recorder inspected by officials at the site where a passenger plane crashed in Hassana Egypt, Friday, Oct. 31, 2015. (Suliman el-Oteify, Egypt Prime Minister's Office via AP)
In this image released by the Prime Minister's office, Sherif Ismail, right, looks at the remains of a crashed passenger jet in Hassana Egypt, Friday, Oct. 31, 2015. (Suliman el-Oteify, Egypt Prime Minister's Office via AP)
Egyptian paramedics load the remains of Russian victims of a Russian passenger plane crash in the Sinai Peninsula, into a military aircraft at Kabret military air base by the Suez Canal on October 31, 2015. AFP PHOTO / KHALED DESOUKIKHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images
Egyptian paramedics load the remains of Russian victims of a Russian passenger plane crash in the Sinai Peninsula, into a military aircraft at Kabret military air base by the Suez Canal on October 31, 2015. AFP PHOTO / KHALED DESOUKIKHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images
Egyptian paramedics load the remains of Russian victims of a Russian passenger plane crash in the Sinai Peninsula, into a military plane at Kabret military air base by the Suez Canal on October 31, 2015. AFP PHOTO / KHALED DESOUKIKHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images
Egyptian police officers stand guard outside the Zeinhom Morgue in Cairo on October 31, 2015, as they wait for the victims of the Russian charter plane. AFP PHOTO /MOHAMED EL-SHAHEDMOHAMED EL-SHAHED/AFP/Getty Images
Egyptian ambulances carrying the corpses of Russian victims of a Russian passenger plane crash in the Sinai Peninsula, off load the bodies into a military aircraft at Kabret military air base by the Suez Canal on October 31, 2015. AFP PHOTO / KHALED DESOUKIKHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images
Egyptian ambulances carrying the corpses of Russian victims of a Russian passenger plane crash in the Sinai Peninsula, off load the bodies into a military aircraft at Kabret military air base by the Suez Canal on October 31, 2015. AFP PHOTO / KHALED DESOUKIKHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images
Egyptian police officers stand guard outside the Zeinhom Morgue in Cairo on October 31, 2015, as they wait for the victims of the Russian charter plane. AFP PHOTO /MOHAMED EL-SHAHEDMOHAMED EL-SHAHED/AFP/Getty Images
Egyptian police officers stand guard outside the Zeinhom Morgue in Cairo on October 31, 2015, as they wait for the victims of the Russian charter plane. AFP PHOTO /MOHAMED EL-SHAHEDMOHAMED EL-SHAHED/AFP/Getty Images
Egyptian paramedics load the corpses of Russian victims of a Russian passenger plane crash in the Sinai Peninsula, into a military aircraft at Kabret military air base by the Suez Canal on October 31, 2015. AFP PHOTO / KHALED DESOUKIKHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images
Egyptian paramedics load the corpses of Russian victims of a Russian passenger plane crash in the Sinai Peninsula, into a military aircraft at Kabret military air base by the Suez Canal on October 31, 2015. AFP PHOTO / KHALED DESOUKIKHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images
Egyptian police officers stand guard outside the Zeinhom Morgue in Cairo on October 31, 2015, as they wait for the victims of the Russian charter plane. AFP PHOTO /MOHAMED EL-SHAHEDMOHAMED EL-SHAHED/AFP/Getty Images
Egyptian ambulances carrying the corpses of Russian victims of a Russian passenger plane crash in the Sinai Peninsula, off load the bodies into a military aircraft at Kabret military air base by the Suez Canal on October 31, 2015. AFP PHOTO / KHALED DESOUKIKHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images
Egyptian ambulances carrying the corpses of Russian victims of a Russian passenger plane crash in the Sinai Peninsula, off load the bodies into a military aircraft at Kabret military air base by the Suez Canal on October 31, 2015. AFP PHOTO / KHALED DESOUKIKHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images
Relatives react at Pulkovo international airport outside Saint Petersburg after a Russian plane with 224 people on board crashed in a mountainous part of Egypt's Sinai Peninsula on October 31, 2015. AFP PHOTO / OLGA MALTSEVAOLGA MALTSEVA/AFP/Getty Images
Relatives wait at the Pulkovo international airport outside St. Petersburg after a Russian plane with 224 people on board crashed in a mountainous part of Egypt's Sinai Peninsula on October 31, 2015. AFP PHOTO / OLGA MALTSEVAOLGA MALTSEVA/AFP/Getty Images

Pictures from the scene where a Russian airliner crashed, claiming the lives of 224 people, have emerged.

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The pictures show the twisted remnants of the crashed plane as well as clothing littering the site.

Egyptian Prime Minister Sherif Ismail visited the scene and spoke to investigators there.

He subsequently said it was impossible to determine the cause of the Russian plane crash until the black box was examined but that no "irregular" activities were believed to be behind it, according to a report from Reuters.

Egyptian police officers stand guard, next to graffiti condemning police brutality, outside the Zeinhom Morgue in Cairo on October 31, 2015, as they wait for the victims of the Russian charter plane. AFP PHOTO /MOHAMED EL-SHAHEDMOHAMED EL-SHAHED/AFP/Getty Images
Egyptian police officers stand guard, next to graffiti condemning police brutality, outside the Zeinhom Morgue in Cairo on October 31, 2015, as they wait for the victims of the Russian charter plane. AFP PHOTO /MOHAMED EL-SHAHEDMOHAMED EL-SHAHED/AFP/Getty Images
A relative of those on the Metrojet flight that crashed in Egypt react as they gather to grieve at a hotel near St. Petersburg's Pulkovo airport outside St.Petersburg, Russia, Saturday, Oct. 31, 2015. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)
Relatives and friends of those on the Metrojet flight that crashed in Egypt comfort each other while gathering to grieve at a hotel near St. Petersburg's Pulkovo airport outside St.Petersburg, Russia, Saturday, Oct. 31, 2015. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)
Relatives and the friends of those on the Metrojet flight that crashed in Egypt react as they gather at a hotel near St. Petersburg's Pulkovo airport outside St.Petersburg, Russia, Saturday, Oct. 31, 2015. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)
Police officers control the situation as relatives and the friends of those on the Metrojet flight that crashed in Egypt gather to grieve at a hotel near St. Petersburg's Pulkovo airport outside St.Petersburg, Russia, Saturday, Oct. 31, 2015. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)
Relatives of victims of a Russian airliner which crashed in Egypt, mourn at a hotel near Pulkovo airport in St. Petersburg, Russia, October 31, 2015. REUTERS/Peter Kovalev
A relative of victims of a Russian airliner which crashed in Egypt, mourns at a hotel near Pulkovo airport in St. Petersburg, Russia, October 31, 2015. REUTERS/Peter Kovalev
Relatives of victims of a Russian airliner which crashed in Egypt, mourn at a hotel near Pulkovo airport in St. Petersburg, Russia, October 31, 2015. REUTERS/Peter Kovalev
Relatives of victims of a Russian airliner which crashed in Egypt, mourn at a hotel near Pulkovo airport in St. Petersburg, Russia, October 31, 2015. REUTERS/Peter Kovalev
A relative of victims of a Russian airliner which crashed in Egypt, mourns at a hotel near Pulkovo airport in St. Petersburg, Russia, October 31, 2015. REUTERS/Peter Kovalev
Relatives wait at Pulkovo international airport outside St. Petersburg after a Russian plane with 224 people on board crashed in a mountainous part of Egypt's Sinai Peninsula on October 31, 2015. AFP PHOTO / OLGA MALTSEVAOLGA MALTSEVA/AFP/Getty Images
Relatives wait for information at Pulkovo international airport outside Saint Petersburg after a Russian plane with 224 people on board crashed in a mountainous part of Egypt's Sinai Peninsula on October 31, 2015. AFP PHOTO / OLGA MALTSEVAOLGA MALTSEVA/AFP/Getty Images

The pictures of the crash site were issued by media outlets as it emerged the authorities have found and obtained both black boxes from the passenger plane. The announcement of the discovery was made by the civil aviation minister told a news conference.

There are normally two black boxes on an aircraft, one for cockpit voice recordings and one for flight data. Egyptian authorities had earlier said they only found one.

Read more here: France's air safety agency to send team to Egypt to investigate plane crash  

Earlier, Egyptian paramedics began the process of removing the remains of victims from the scene of a plane crash in the country's Sinai peninsula.

The Metrojet's Airbus A-321 with registration number EI-ETJ that crashed in Egypt's Sinai peninsula, is seen in this picture taken in Antalya, Turkey REUTERS/Kim Philipp Piskol
The Metrojet's Airbus A-321 with registration number EI-ETJ that crashed in Egypt's Sinai peninsula, is seen in this picture taken in Antalya, Turkey REUTERS/Kim Philipp Piskol
Relatives react at Pulkovo international airport outside Saint Petersburg after a Russian plane with 224 people on board crashed in a mountainous part of Egypt's Sinai Peninsula on October 31, 2015. AFP PHOTO / OLGA MALTSEVAOLGA MALTSEVA/AFP/Getty Images
Relatives wait at Pulkovo international airport outside St. Petersburg after a Russian plane with 224 people on board crashed in a mountainous part of Egypt's Sinai Peninsula on October 31, 2015. AFP PHOTO / OLGA MALTSEVAOLGA MALTSEVA/AFP/Getty Images

Workers were seen loading the remains of at least 15 people into a military aircraft at Kabret military base by the Suez Canal.

It's believed the remains will be transferred to the central morgue in Cairo where Egyptian security officials are standing guard.

CBS News reporter Alex Ortiz, who is based in Cairo, has tweeted images from the morgue in the Egyptian capital, and has stated he has witnessed ambulances arriving at the scene. The vehicles are believed to be carrying the remains of crash victims.

It comes as both the Russian and Egyptian governments seek to play down claims from Islamic State that they are responsible for the crash, which claimed the lives of 224 people on board the flight, including 17 children.

A woman wipes her tears outside Pulkovo international airport near Saint Petersburg after a Russian plane with 224 people on board crashed in a mountainous part of Egypt's Sinai Peninsula on October 31, 2015. AFP PHOTO / OLGA MALTSEVAOLGA MALTSEVA/AFP/Getty Images
A woman wipes her tears outside Pulkovo international airport near Saint Petersburg after a Russian plane with 224 people on board crashed in a mountainous part of Egypt's Sinai Peninsula on October 31, 2015. AFP PHOTO / OLGA MALTSEVAOLGA MALTSEVA/AFP/Getty Images

The Russian transport minister played down claims Islamic State are responsible for a plane to crash in Egypt's Sinai region.

A militant group affiliated to Islamic State in Egypt claimed responsibility for the downing of a Russian passenger plane that crashed in Egypt's Sinai peninsula on Saturday, the group said in a statement circulated by supporters on Twitter.

Egyptian security sources earlier today said early investigations suggested the plane crashed due to a technical fault.

The claim of responsibility was also carried by the Aamaq website which acts as a semi official news agency for Islamic State.

"The fighters of the Islamic State were able to down a Russian plane over Sinai province that was carrying over 220 Russian crusaders. They were all killed, thanks be to God," the statement circulated on Twitter said.

Read more here: Michael Lavery: If Islamic State ARE responsible for Egypt plane crash, a nightmare scenario for global aviation will unfold  

However, the Russian government say such claims 'can't be considered accurate'.

Later, the Russian aviation regulator Rosaviatsia said that it didn't yet see any reason to blame the crash of a Russian airliner in Egypt on a technical failure, an error by the crew or external actions, RIA news agency reported.

"Until there is reliable evidence about the circumstances of what happened, there is no sense in putting forward and discussing any versions," RIA quoted Rosaviatsia as saying in a statement.

The Russian airliner carrying 224 passengers and crew crashed in Egypt's Sinai peninsula on Saturday after losing radar contact and plummeting from its cruising altitude, killing all aboard.

The Airbus A321, operated by Russian airline Kogalymavia under the brand name Metrojet, was flying from the Sinai Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh to St Petersburg in Russia when it went down in a desolate mountainous area of central Sinai soon after daybreak, the aviation ministry said.

The Metrojet Airbus A321-200 (registration EI-ETJ) is listed in the Irish Aviation Authority’s (IAA) Register of Aircraft as being owned Wilmington Trust SP Services Dublin Ltd with offices in the Irish Financial Services Centre (IFSC) at George’s Dock in Dublin.

It’s known the jet visited Shannon, Dublin and Cork Airports previously.

Both black boxes of the plane had been found, Mohamed Hossam Kemal, the civil aviation minister, told a news conference.

Kemal said communications between the plane and air traffic control before the crash had been normal and that nothing irregular had occurred before the accident.

"The plane did not request a change of route," he said.

Egyptian Prime Minister Sherif Ismail also told the news conference that there did not appear to be any unusual activity behind the crash but the facts would not be clear until further investigations had been carried out.

Ismail said 129 bodies had so far been removed and the chances of finding survivors were now near-impossible.

Bodies were being transported to various hospitals with 34 arriving in the Zeinhom morgue in Cairo early in the evening.

Islamic State, in a statement on Twitter, said it had brought down the aircraft.

Sinai is the scene of an insurgency by militants close to Islamic State, who have killed hundreds of Egyptian soldiers and police and have also attacked Western targets in recent months. Much of the Sinai is a restricted military zone.

Militants in the area are not believed to have missiles capable of hitting a plane at 30,000 feet. Islamic State websites have in the past claimed responsibility for actions that have not been conclusively attributed to them.

Russia, an ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, launched air raids against opposition groups in Syria including Islamic State on Sept. 30.

Two of Europe's largest airlines, Lufthansa and Air France-KLM, said they would avoid flying over the Sinai peninsula while awaiting an explanation on the cause of the crash.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi promised Russia's President Vladimir Putin he would allow Russian experts to join the investigation.

The prime minister said a Russian team would arrive in Egypt later on Saturday night. The country is also preparing to receive the families of the victims.

TELEPHONES RINGING

Putin declared a day of national mourning for Sunday. The passengers included 214 Russians and three Ukrainians.

A middle-aged man in a grey overcoat, who gave his first name as Nayeel, wept as he spoke to reporters as he came out of a hotel near St Petersburg's Pulkovo airport, where a special reception centre has been set up for families of the victims.

He said that his wife had been on the plane.

"At six am she sent me a text message saying: I'm boarding. God be with me.' And that was it," he said. The man said the rest of the family had already returned from a holiday in Egypt, but his wife had opted to stay on, which is why she was on the Saturday morning flight.

The A321 is a medium-haul jet in service since 1994, with over 1,100 in operation worldwide and a good safety record. It is a highly automated aircraft relying on computers to help pilots stay within safe flying limits.

Airbus said the A321 was built in 1997 and had been operated by Metrojet since 2012. It had flown 56,000 hours in nearly 21,000 flights and was powered by engines from International Aero Engines consortium, which includes United Technologies unit Pratt & Whitney and Germany's MTU Aero Engines .

Emergency services and aviation specialists searched the wreckage for any clues to the crash. Wreckage was scattered over a wide area.

"We are hearing a lot of telephones ringing, most likely belonging to the victims, and security forces are collecting them and putting them into a bag," the security officer at the scene said.

Russia's Investigative Committee said it was checking fuel samples from the aircraft's last refueling stop, in the southern Russian city of Samara, according to RIA news agency. Searches were being carried out at Moscow's Domodedovo airport where the airline that operated the plane is based.

Kogalymavia was founded in 1993, and was earlier called Kolavia. Its fleet consists of two A320s and seven A321s.

Russia and other former Soviet republics have relatively poor safety records, notably on domestic flights.

Some Russian air crashes have been blamed on the use of ageing aircraft, but industry experts point to other problems, including poor crew training, crumbling airports, lax government controls and neglect of safety in the pursuit of profits.

The aircraft took off at 5:51 a.m. Cairo time (0351 GMT) and disappeared from radar screens 23 minutes later, Egypt's Civil Aviation Ministry said in a statement. It was at an altitude of 31,000 feet (9,400 metres) when it vanished from radar screens.

Accidents at cruising altitude are one of the rarest categories of accidents but also among the most deadly, accounting for 13 percent of fatal incidents since 2005, according to Boeing.

Investigators would be looking into, among other things, the weather at the time, the pilots' experience, maintenance records, signs of a stall and any evidence of an explosion.

Experts consistently warn air accidents are usually caused by a cocktail of factors, both human and technical.

According to FlightRadar24, an authoritative Sweden-based flight tracking service, the aircraft was descending rapidly at about 6,000 feet (1,800 metres) per minute when the signal was lost to air traffic control.

France's civil aviation safety agency (BEA) said it would send a team to Egypt on Nov. 1 to join investigators from Germany and Russia. The United States Secretary of State John Kerry offered U.S. assistance, if needed, a spokesman said.

Reuters

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