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Tourists determined to enjoy holiday Russia plane crash in Sinai

AFP , Sunday 1 Nov 2015
Sharm El-Sheikh
Tourists in Sharm El-Sheikh
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Inside a glitzy hotel lobby on Egypt's Red Sea, some tourists expressed concern Sunday about flying home after a Russian plane crash, but others seemed determined to enjoy their holiday.

A Kogalymavia Airbus A321 carrying 224 people from the resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh crashed on Saturday in the Sinai Peninsula, killing everyone on board.

International experts at the scene are trying to discover the cause of the crash which was "claimed" by the Egyptian affiliate of the Islamic State group. Both Cairo and Moscow have downplayed the group's claim that it brought down the airliner.

The flight had been taking holidaymakers home to Russia's second city Saint Petersburg when it broke up in mid-air, according to a senior official with Russia's Interstate Aviation Committee.

Bodies and wreckage were strewn across a wide area of rugged desert terrain.

"We're scared," said two young Russian women due to fly home later Sunday.

"But we're going to Moscow, not Saint Petersburg," they added, as they tried to connect to the Internet for an update on the latest news.

Many Russian tourists in Sharm el-Sheikh said they received worried calls or messages from their families after the crash.

A Scottish couple, Mark and Laura, said they had recently flown in from Edinburgh and heard the news about the crash shortly before take-off.

But they seemed to be relaxed and said they intended to enjoy their week-long holiday.

On Saturday night, Halloween celebrations at the hotel were in full swing despite the tragedy earlier in the day.

Zombies danced to Michael Jackson's hit "Thriller" in front of some 200 tourists, including many British and Russian children on half-term holidays.

Some parents discussed the plane crash out of earshot of their children, who enjoyed the evening dressed up in their Darth Vader, Scream or skeleton costumes.

Throughout the night, holidaymakers mingled in the hotel lobby, either on their way to or from the airport.

There were no flight cancellations.

Clutching his bag, one British tourist said he was waiting for his transfer to the airport, and admitted that he was always anxious before flying anyway.

Tucked between rocky desert cliffs and the warm waters of the Red Sea, Sharm el-Sheikh boasts kilometres (miles) of beaches, hotels and scuba diving centres.

The resort town is a draw for millions of tourists, many Russians among them, despite an Islamist insurgency that has persisted in north Sinai since the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013.

On Sunday morning, holidaymakers flocked to Sharm el-Sheikh's pools and beaches as on any other day under a sunny, blue sky.

This story was edited by Ahram Online

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