Black box from Russian plane could tell us what happened: Egyptian PM Ismail

Ahram Online , Saturday 31 Oct 2015

Sherif Ismail examines the flight data recorder
In this image released by the Prime Minister's office, Sherif Ismail, third right, examines the flight data recorder inspected by officials at the site where a passenger plane crashed in Hassana Egypt, Friday, Oct. 31, 2015 (AP)

Egyptian PM Sherif Ismail announced in a press conference that the black box in the Russian plane which crashed in Sinai on Saturday morning will arrive in Cairo this evening, saying that "We cannot know what exactly happened to the plane before we first listen to the black box recordings."

Egyptian civil aviation experts and the armed forces had located the box at the crash site in North Sinai earlier on Saturday, Ismail said at a press conference in Cairo.

The plane, which was carrying 217 passengers and seven crew members, was on its way from the Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh Russia's St Petersburg when it crashed inthe Sinai Peninsula, killing all on board.

Civil Aviation Minister Hossam Kamel told the gathered journalists that communication between the Russian plane and air traffic control seemed completely normal prior to the crash

"The crew didn't even send an SOS and suddenly the plane disappeared off the radar," Kamel said. 

However, earlier during the day, Ayman El-Mokadem, who is heading a government committee to determine the cause of the crash, said that the pilot sensed a technical failure and reported it to the aviation authorities [air traffic controllers], requesting to land at the nearest airport. El-Mokadem added that the plane seems to have crashed during the attempt to shift directions in order to land at Al-Arish Airport in North Sinai.

Ismail announced that 129 dead bodies have been recovered so far from the crash site and transported to Zeinhom morgue in Cairo.

"A team of experts from the Russian government and from the company which manufactured the plane will arrive in Cairo on Saturday evening  to join the investigation team," he added.

Earlier on Saturday, Ismail along with other ministers visited the crash site to monitor the search and rescue efforts.

The Russian MetroJet Airbus A-321 disappeared off Egyptian air traffic control radars 23 minutes after takeoff in Sharm El-Sheikh. It was reportedly cruising at an altitude of 30,000 feet, heading to St Petersburg.

All passengers and crew members have been confirmed dead.

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