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Saturday 25 March 2017

Suspicion falls on Sharm hotel staff for planting bomb on holiday jet

Egyptians security officials screen luggage as passengers check in at Sharm el-Sheikh Airport in south Sinai, Egypt. Photo: AP
Egyptians security officials screen luggage as passengers check in at Sharm el-Sheikh Airport in south Sinai, Egypt. Photo: AP

Magdy Samaan in Sharm el-Sheikh

Maids, porters and other hotel staff in Sharm el-Sheikh are being questioned to discover if one of them hid a bomb in the luggage of a passenger on board the doomed Russian holiday flight.

With Egypt "90pc certain" that Metrojet Flight 9268 was brought down by a terrorist attack, the hunt for the bomber has widened.

Airport staff have already been interrogated without a breakthrough, and now police are exploring the theory that someone with access to the hotel rooms of Russian tourists could have stowed a bomb in a suitcase.

They are checking the backgrounds of staff at hotels where victims of the crash were staying.

One airport official said a British security team who visited the airport last week were particularly alarmed to find a guard manning an X-ray machine playing with his phone instead of monitoring the scanner. Poor lighting in one corner of the airport was also a concern.

The local police have put in an urgent request for more CCTV cameras at the airport, together with a 24-hour monitoring room to keep check on the site both indoors and out.

The effort to repatriate up to 20,000 Britons from Sharm el-Sheikh continued yesterday, with another 11 UK-bound flights scheduled to have left the resort, but concerns have been raised about the protection of luggage after airport staff said 20,000 bags and cases are piled up at the airport.

British passengers are allowed to travel only with hand baggage, after suspicion fell on a bomb being placed in the hold of the Airbus A321 that crashed on October 31, killing 224 people, but airport authorities are struggling to cope with the backlog of suitcases.

Russia has sent an air force cargo plane to collect luggage but British passengers are relying on Egypt Air to return their bags. With the airport's storage facility full, tourists are being told to leave their luggage in their hotels. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Telegraph.co.uk

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