All 224 People Aboard Russian Plane Killed in Crash

Debris from crashed Russian jet lies on the sand at the site of the crash, Sinai, Egypt, 31 October 2015. According to reports the Egyptian Government has dispatched more than 45 ambulances to the crash site of the Kogalymavia Metrojet Russian passenger jet, which disappeared from raider after requesting an emergency landing early 31 October, crashing in the mountainous al-Hasanah area of central Sinai. The black box has been recovered at the site. (PHOTO CREDIT: EPA/STR EGYPT OUT ORG XMIT: SIN01)
Debris from crashed Russian jet lies on the sand at the site of the crash, Sinai, Egypt, 31 October 2015. According to reports the Egyptian Government has dispatched more than 45 ambulances to the crash site of the Kogalymavia Metrojet Russian passenger jet, which disappeared from raider after requesting an emergency landing early 31 October, crashing in the mountainous al-Hasanah area of central Sinai. The black box has been recovered at the site. (PHOTO CREDIT: EPA/STR EGYPT OUT ORG XMIT: SIN01)

All 224 people aboard a Russian airliner were killed early Saturday when the Airbus A321 crashed in Egypt’s Sinai peninsula shortly after takeoff from a popular Red Sea resort town, officials say.

The Metrojet flight, carrying 217 passengers and seven crewmembers, was en route from Sharm El-Sheikh in Egypt to St. Petersburg when it dropped off radar screens 23 minutes into the flight.

It is believed to be the deadliest air accident in the history of Russian aviation, surpassing a 1985 disaster in Uzbekistan in which 200 people died, the Russian-run news agency RIA says.

“Unfortunately, all passengers of flight 7K9268 Sharm el-Sheikh-Petersburg were killed,” The Russian embassy in Cairo said, in Russian, on Twitter. “We express our condolences to the family and friends.”

Egyptian officials said the 7-person crew and 214 of the passengers and all of the crew were Russian and that three of the passengers were Ukrainian, RT.com reports.The victims included 17 children, aged 2 to 17, according to Russian authorities.

St. Petersburg Gov. Georgy Poltavchenko, however, told reporters that one of the three victims described as Ukrainian citizens was actually from the former Soviet republic of Belarus, RIA reports.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has issued a statement expressing his condolences to the families of the victims and declared a day of mourning. A team of Russian investigators was sent immediately to Egypt, according to Russia’s Emergencies Ministry, the Russian state-run news agency RIA reports.

Officials said 129 bodies and two black boxes with flight data from the plane were found at the crash site, according to RIA. The Russian news outlet Life-News published and tweeted the first photos from the site, showing smoking wreckage spread out on desolate terrain.

The Airbus A321 is a relatively safe plane. A Boeing study of crashes from 1959 through 2014 found that the A321 family of planes had 22 hull losses, 12 of which involved fatalities.

That rate of 0.14 hull losses per million departures was below the 0.73 average rate for all major aircraft studied. For comparison, the similarly sized Boeing 737 has a hull-loss rate of 0.1 per million departures.

Marks said even relatively new types of aircraft such as the A321 could have safety glitches. Investigators will maintenance records and flight recorders to see what went wrong, he said.

In a statement on its website, Moscow-based Metrojet says the A321 received required factory maintenance in 2014. The statement identified the captain of the plane as Valery Nemov and said he had 12,000 air hours of experience, including 3,860 in A321s.

The airline, also known as Kogalymavia, tells the Russian Interfax news agency that it does not believe human error was behind the crash. The airline also said it was arranging flights to Egypt for relatives of the victims.

Bodies of the victims of the Russian Airbus air crash were being taken to a morgue in Cairo.

Russian investigators searched the Metrojet offices, the AP reported. Officers of Russia’s top investigative body, the Investigative Committee, were also questioning Metrojet employees and doing the same at the St. Petersburg-based Brisco tour agency that had contracted for the flight from the resort of Sharm el-Sheikh to St. Petersburg.

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SOURCE: USA Today, Kim Hjelmgaard, Bart Jansen and Doug Stanglin