Putin suspends Russian flights to Egypt after Sinai plane crash as the British bring tourists home

The Guardian – By Staff and Agencies – Friday 6 November 2015

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Photo: British tourists stranded in Sharm el-Sheikh Airport

Russian president orders halt to flights as British attempts to bring passengers home from Sharm el-Sheikh descend into chaos.

Russia has suspended flights to all Egyptian airports in an apparent acknowledgement by the Kremlin that a terrorist attack could have brought down a Russian-operated plane over the Sinai peninsula, killing all 224 people on board.

Related: Russia suspends Egypt flights until cause of Sinai crash is established – live

The Russian move came as British attempts to bring passengers home from Sharm el-Sheikh descended into chaos on Friday.

While Russia had earlier suggested that the UK was acting prematurely in halting flights to the Red Sea resort over terrorism fears, President Vladimir Putin ordered even wider restrictions on Friday, including halting all flights from Cairo. The head of his federal security services said it would be “expedient” to suspend flights until they had discovered why the Airbus 321 had crashed last Saturday.

Russia initially dismissed Islamic State claims of responsibility for downing the Metrojet flight, which came weeks after threats of retaliation for Russian planes bombing Syria, and reacted angrily after David Cameron said it was “more likely than not” a bomb.

Russia will now follow British moves to bring its tourists home, up to 45,000 of whom are currently on holiday in Egypt, according to Russian tourist authorities.

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Photo: Russian tourists queue at the airport in Sharm El-Sheikh. Photograph: Mohamed El-Shahed/AFP/Getty Images

However, there were chaotic scenes at Sharm el-Sheikh airport as the schedule of “rescue flights” apparently agreed by airlines disintegrated during the day. Thousands of travellers who had gone to the airport expecting to leave, were delayed further. Eight EasyJet flights were scrapped in the morning, while empty Monarch, Thomas Cook and Thomson planes which had flown from Britain to bring back holidaymakers were diverted before reaching Egypt.

Read entire article here

Posted by Teri Perticone

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