A Russian passenger plane carrying 224 people, including 17 children, has crashed in Egypt, with the majority of those on board feared dead.
The Airbus A-321 was travelling from the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, destined for St Petersburg in Russia, when it came down in central Sinai.
Although the area is home to groups of Islamist militants, there are no indications that the jet was shot down, Egyptian security sources told Reuters. The most likely explanation at this time is a mechanical failure.
According to the Guardian, a security officer from the search and rescue team claimed the plane was “completely destroyed with all on board likely to have died”, but officers at the scene said the voices of trapped passengers could be heard from inside a section of the crashed plane.
Speaking to Reuters, the anonymous officer said:
There is a section of the plane with passengers inside that the rescue team is still trying to enter and we hope to find survivors, especially after hearing pained voices of people inside.
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The plane disappeared from radar screens 23 minutes after it took off at 5.51am this morning.
The office of Egyptian Prime Minister Sharif Ismail confirmed the tragic news in an official statement, adding that a crisis committee had been formed to deal with the crash.