Moscow and Cairo cooperation could uncover truth in Sinai plane crash, says Egypt's Sisi

Ahram Online , Sunday 1 Nov 2015

The Egyptian president cautioned patience in searching for answers about the cause of the Russian plane crash that killed all 224 passengers and crew on Saturday

An Egyptian military helicopter flies over debris from a Russian airliner which crashed at the Hassana area in Arish city, north Egypt, November 1, 2015 (Reuters)

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi said that Cairo has no qualms in cooperating with Moscow to “discover the truth” about what caused the deadly crash of a Russian plane over Sinai on Saturday.

During an educational symposium organised by the armed forces in Cairo on Sunday, the Egyptian president asked the public not to rush for judgment on causes of the crash, saying investigations need to be completed.

“In such cases, the issue should be left to specialists, and there should be no speculation about reasons behind the crash since the issue is being extensively investigated and there are complicated technical procedures,” El-Sisi said.

Egypt and Russia have enjoyed warm political and military relations since El-Sisi was elected president in 2014.

On Saturday afternoon, Egypt's Prosecutor-General Nabil Ahmed Sadek agreed to Russian request to allow Russian experts to take part in the Egypt-run investigation opened into the causes of the crash which left 224 passengers and crew members dead.

On Sunday, Sadek formed a technical committee of specialists from the Egyptian civil aviation ministry to conduct the investigation, allowing Russian representatives to

The committee will inspect the plane's debris - in the Hassana area, some 70 kilometers (44 miles) south of the North Sinai city of El-Arish, and will also analyse recovered black boxes, which contain the flight data.

As of Sunday afternoon, according to the Egyptian prosecution, 187 bodies were recovered from the site of the wreckage.

Egyptian authorities are also to conduct DNA tests on unidentified corpses and compare results with DNA samples taken from family members of the victims, who have arrived in Egypt in order to recognise their relatives who died in the crash.

On Saturday, Sadek had declared the site where the Russian airliner carrying 224 passengers and crew crashed to be off-limits.

The Airbus A321, operated by Russian airline Kogalymavia, crashed in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula on Saturday morning after losing radar contact less than half an hour after takeoff, killing all aboard, including 25 children.

The flight departed from the Sinai Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh on route to St Petersburg, Russia.

On Sunday afternoon, a senior official from Russia’s Interstate Aviation Committee said that the plane broke apart “in the air.”

"The disintegration happened in the air and the fragments are strewn over a large area," committee chief Viktor Sorochenko was quoted as saying by RIA-Novosti news agency in Cairo, where he is part of an international panel of experts from Russia, Egypt, France and Ireland.

Sorochenko said it was "too early to draw conclusions" about what caused the crash.

Both Cairo and Moscow dismissed allegations by the Siani-based Islamists militant group Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis it downed the plane.

Meanwhile, in an interview with Russian state channel NTV, the wife of co-pilot Sergei Trukachev said her husband had complained of the aircraft's condition.

On Saturday night, Civil Aviation Minister Hossam Kamel said that the Egyptian air traffic controllers did not receive any SOS from the pilot.

However, Ayman El-Mokadem, who heads the government's committee investigating the cause of the crash, had said on Saturday morning, said that the pilot experienced technical problems and asked air traffic controllers to grant him permission to land at the nearest airport.

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