Relatives of those who died in the crash of a Russian airliner in Egypt have been arriving at the airport in St. Petersburg where the flight would have landed.
Kogalymavia Flight 7K9268 never made it to Pulkovo Airport, plunging instead into the Egyptian desert, killing all 224 people aboard.
Victims’ relatives have been gathering at a hotel close to the airport, where officials have set up a reception center. Distraught people sat stunned in the hotel lobby areas, being attended to by grief counselors. Investigators were taking DNA samples to help with identifying the dead.
At the arrivals building, a small makeshift shrine was steadily growing as people came to express their sorrow.
Local officials said they expected the first bodies to begin arriving in St. Petersburg Sunday. The cause of the crash is still unknown, although investigators are leaning toward a technical failure; Russia’s Investigative Committee – the equivalent of the F.B.I. – has opened a criminal investigation into the disaster.
Meanwhile, at the hotel, ashen-faced families faced blank grief, struggling to comprehend how their loved ones had vanished.
“He was here yesterday. Now he’s gone,” said the father of one victim, before walking away as he started to weep.
SOURCE: PATRICK REEVELL