The Latest: Egypt investigates Sharm el-Sheikh ground crew, local staff for crashed Metrojet
The Associated Press
(AP Photo/Vinciane Jacquet)
Associated Press Nov. 7, 2015 | 7:59 a.m. EST + More
By The Associated Press
SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt (AP) — The latest on the crash of a Russian plane in Egypt that killed all 224 people onboard. (All times local.)
Egyptian airport and security officials say an investigation has been launched into any local staff and ground crew in Sharm el-Sheikh that came into contact with the downed Russian Metrojet flight.
The officials tell The Associated Press on Saturday that authorities are questioning airport staff and have begun surveillance on those who worked on the Russian flight that crashed a week ago in the Sinai desert 23 minutes after taking off from the Red Sea resort.
They spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to brief reporters.
The British government and U.S. officials have said intelligence suggests the plane was downed by a bomb. The crash, which killed all 224 people onboard, dealt another huge blow to Egypt's battered tourism sector, which is yet to fully recover from years of political turmoil.
— Nour Youssef in Cairo.
A top Russian official says Egypt's military has taken control of registering departing passengers for flights out of the country.
The statement Saturday by Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich came as Russian tourists scrambled to leave Egypt following Russia's decision to suspend passenger flights to the country due to security concerns.
Russian airlines are sending empty planes to Egypt to bring home some of the estimated 80,000 Russians in Egypt, most of whom are in Red Sea resort areas.
Dvorkovich said there have been about 10 homeward-bound flights to Russia already on Saturday.
The aviation security fears developed after U.S. and British officials said they feared a bomb brought down a Metrojet flight that took off from Sharm el-Sheikh on Oct. 31, killing all 224 people onboard.
Russian tourists in Egypt are gathering at the Sharm el-Sheikh airport seeking a way home.
Ivan Zaitsev, who works in the printing industry, was in a long, snaking line Saturday of Russian and Kazakh tourists with his wife and young son. He says their travel agent told them the Moscow-bound flight would leave Saturday but that it hasn't appeared on the monitor yet.
Russia has banned all flights to Egypt until aviation security procedures improve but was allowing special flights to bring Russian tourists back home from Sharm el-Sheikh. Those tourists can only bring hand luggage aboard.
Zaitsev says "I think if the government decided something like this they have their reasons ... we're really hoping to fly back safely. This is the main issue now."
Over 100 Russian passengers were left behind in Sharm el-Sheikh early Saturday because they didn't want to leave their luggage in Egypt.
Egypt's foreign minister says his country did not receive the intelligence upon which other countries based their decisions to ground all flights to the Sharm el-Sheikh airport.
In a press conference Saturday, Foreign Minister Sameh Shourky told reporters that Egypt was not briefed on the intelligence.
He says "we expected that the information available would be communicated to us instead of being broadcast" in the media.
The decision to suspend flights came after a Russian plane that took off from Sharm el-Sheikh airport crashed into the Sinai desert on Oct. 31, killing all 224 aboard. The British government and anonymous U.S. officials have said there was intelligence suggesting the plane was downed by a bomb.
Egyptian airport security officials say a Russian airplane carrying 86 people has left from Sharm el-Sheikh airport.
The two officials say another 113 passengers were left behind early Saturday because they didn't want to leave their luggage in Egypt. The resort now has strict luggage rules banning any check-in luggage.
Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media.
Russia on Friday banned flights to Egypt until the country raises its aviation security standards.