Search concluded, total of 196 bodies recovered from Russian plane wreckage: Egypt’s cabinet

Ahram Online , Tuesday 3 Nov 2015

A man comforts a woman as relatives of those killed in an air crash in Egypt gather for the identification of remains at a morgue in St. Petersburg, Russia November 3, 2015 (Reuters)

A total of 196 bodies from the Russian airliner crash have been recovered and the search operation has ended, cabinet spokesperson Hossam Qawish announced Monday, Ahram Arabic website reported.

A Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations airplane carrying body parts and belongings of the Airbus A-321 crash's victims departed from Cairo and arrived in St. Petersburg Tuesday, state news agency MENA reported.

Another Russian airplane arrived on Monday with the bodies of 140 victims.

Russian authorities have set up a crisis centre next to Pulkovo airport, where the planes are arriving, for family members to provide DNA samples for identification, AFP reported. The site is also being used as a memorial site to commemorate the victims.

The number of victims identified has yet to be released.

The plane crashed Saturday morning, 23 minutes after it took off, killing all 224 people on board. The cause of the crash has not been determined.

In a phone call on "Hona Al Assema" program on CBC TV channel, Qawish said the two black boxes of the Russian plane will be reviewed within a period ranging from a week to a month. He confirmed that they are in good condition.

Qawish added that a commission to investigate the incident has been formed of Egyptian, Russian, French, German, and Irish representatives, in addition to a representative from the company that owned the plane.

The Airbus A321 was registered in Ireland, owned by Irish firm Wilmington Trust SP Services (Dublin) Ltd., and leased to Russian airline Metrojet.

Qawish rejected claims of a possible ‘terrorist attack,’ calling for conclusions to be made once investigations are completed. 

Qawish added that he is annoyed with some airlines' bans on flying their planes above Sinai, adding that those companies will bear the responsibility for any negative outcomes affecting tourism in Egypt, as this "campaign" precedes the investigations' results.

A number of carriers including German carrier Lufthansa and Air France-KLM decided Saturday to reroute flights, avoiding the Sinai Peninsula for safety reasons until the cause of the crash becomes clear.

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