Tuesday 20 August 2019

Egyptian president makes surprise visit to Sharm el-Sheikh

Egyptians security officials screen luggage as passengers check in at Sharm el-Sheikh Airport (AP)
Egyptians security officials screen luggage as passengers check in at Sharm el-Sheikh Airport (AP)

Egypt's president has made a surprise visit of the Sharm el-Sheikh airport, seeking to reassure tourists that the vacation destination is safe.

Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi was returning from an Arab-South American summit in Riyadh when he made the unannounced visit in the wake of a Russian plane crash on October 31.

"Our visit today aims to reassure people inside and outside Egypt," Mr el-Sissi said after greeting some foreign tourists and wading through a packed terminal at the Red Sea resort.

"We want people who come here to be secure and safe and to live and go back safely to their countries."

All 224 people aboard the Metrojet Airbus A321 were killed in the crash in the Sinai Peninsula, which took place shortly after take-off from Sharm el-Sheikh en route to St Petersburg. Most of the passengers were Russian tourists returning home.

Mr El-Sissi also said that authorities have carried out regular checks on all airports over the past few months, and that other countries had been involved in the inspections.

Earlier in the day, a Russian search and rescue team that was brought to Egypt after the crash left to fly home to Moscow.

The 48-strong team had been recovering bodies at the crash site in Sinai's Hassana area, some 70 kilometres (44 miles) south of the peninsula's city of el-Arish.

Other Russians remain in Egypt as part of the investigation committee seeking to determine the cause of the crash.

US and British officials have cited intelligence reports as indicating the passenger plane was likely downed by a bomb on board.

Russia last week suspended all passenger flights to Egypt in the wake of the disaster, dealing a severe blow to Egypt's struggling tourism industry.

Moscow said the ban was necessary because of concerns about security at Egypt's airports. Sergei Ivanov, the Kremlin chief of staff, later said it was expected to last for at least several months.

PA Media

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