As Downing Street says that the Russian jet that crashed over Egypt’s Sinai peninsula may have been brought down by an explosive device, flights to the UK are delayed to allow further checks.
The No 10 spokeswoman said that a team of UK experts will assess security arrangements in place at the Sharm el-Sheikh airport. All flights due to leave for Britain on Wednesday night will be delayed to allow this to take place, and Prime Minister David Cameron will chair a meeting of the Cobra emergency committee this evening to review the situation.
The government said that while investigations into Saturday’s crash were ongoing it could not say categorically why the jet had come down. But it added that “as more information has come to light, we have become concerned that the plane may well have been brought down by an explosive device”.
All 224 people on board the Russian-operated Airbus A321M from Sharm al-Sheikh to St Petersburg died when it crashed in the Sinai desert shortly after take-off.
Boarding now delayed because of the “incident” in Egypt. I’ve got a bad feeling about this.
— Tim Jones (@Timmy1138) October 31, 2015
Local militant group Sinai Province, which is loyal to the Islamic State militants, claimed responsibility, saying it had brought down the plane “in response to Russian air strikes that killed hundreds of Muslims on Syrian land.”
A Downing Street spokeswoman said the decision to delay flights was “a precautionary step”, adding “we are working closely with the airlines on this approach”.
Extra consular staff will be travelling to the popular holiday resort to assist British holiday makers there. The government is not changing its travel advice for the region, and it has advised travellers to contact their airline or tour operator for more advice.
One British holidaymaker, Laura Whiteway, who is on her honeymoon and is 30 weeks pregnant, told Channel 4 News that she was “stressed out” by the situation.
“Fingers crossed they will manage to audit the security of Sharm el-Sheikh’s airport as soon as possible,” she said.
Downing street revealed that David Cameron had spoken to Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi on Tuesday night to discuss security measures at the Sharm el-Sheikh airport.
President Sisi is due to arrive in the UK later on Wednesday for an official visit.
Earlier the Egyptian Civil Aviation Ministry said in a statement that investigators have recovered the flight data recorder from the crash site. It said the cockpit voice recorder was partially damaged, and much work would be required to extract data from it.
With examination of the parts continuing on site, Egypt’s Civil Aviation Minster Hossam Kemal declined to comment on local press reports of unusual sounds in the cockpit before the crash, saying “this is all speculation. There is nothing definitive until the investigation commission completes its probe.”