Published on 5 Nov 2015 Sections , ,

Sharm el-Sheikh: ‘significant possibility’ IS caused crash

David Cameron says it’s looking “increasingly likely” the crash was caused by a terrorist bomb. German and Dutch airlines have joined the UK and temporarily stopped flights in and out of the resort.

Prime Minister David Cameron has said it looks “increasingly likely” the plane crash on the 31 October was caused by a terrorist bomb.

After the passenger jet crashed a group claiming to be affiliated to the so-called Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility. Original reports claimed the plane had technical difficulties so this claim was largely dismissed, but now Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond says this may be genuine.

Speaking to Sky News he said: “We’ve looked at the whole information picture, including that claim, but of course lots of other bits of information as well, and concluded that there is a significant possibility.”

On Thursday Germany’s Foreign Ministry also urged travellers to Egypt to avoid the Sinai Peninsula and, noting suspensions to some airlines’ services to Sharm
el-Sheikh, urged those affected to contact their tour operators or airlines. The Dutch Ministry of Foreign affairs also issued advice against travelling to and from the Sinai resort.

Following the announcement Germany’s Lufthansa Group said it was cancelling all flights of its subsidiaries to Sharm el-Sheikh.

Stranded

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond says that 19 flights due to leave the UK for Sharm el-Sheikh today and then would have brought tourists home have been cancelled.

Speaking on Thursday he said airlines expect to bring holidaymakers back to the UK from tomorrow.

However, the Prime Minister would not confirm dates but said British authorities were working with their Egyptian counterparts and the airlines to introduce emergency measures to bring British tourists safely and securely back to the UK.

Thousands of tourists are stranded in the Egyptian resort after mounting evidence the crashed Russian airliner was downed by a bomb, despite early reports of technical difficulties. Airlines carrying Brits, including Easyjet, Monarch and British Airways, will begin operating “rescue flights” on Friday.

UK experts have been sent to the resort by the Government after fresh intelligence suggested there was a “significant possibility” that a bomb had been placed on a Russian aircraft that crashed 20 minutes after taking off, killing all 224 on board.

A meeting of the emergency Cobra committee, chaired by Prime Minister David Cameron, decided to issue a warning against “all but essential” travel through the airport – effectively barring flights to and from the UK.

‘Premature’

The warning was announced during the country’s president Abdel Fatah al-Sisi visit in the UK. Despite this, Mr Cameron and Mr al-Sisi are said to have held “excellent” talks and the Egyptian leader has a “complete understanding” of the UK’s position.

This despite the angry denouncement by Egypt’s foreign minister, brandishing the temporary change in UK policy as a “premature and unwarranted” step that would smash its tourist industry.

Meanwhile, David Cameron had a phone call on Thursday about “joint counter terrorism work.”

The Kremlin has cautioned against speculation about the cause of the Airbus crash, the majority of the victims of which were Russian. Russian president Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that Moscow “cannot rule out a single theory” but insisted that singling one explanation out was merely speculation.