At Egypt Crash Scene, Suitcases Piled Near Charred Wreckage

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At Egypt Crash Scene, Suitcases Piled Near Charred Wreckage

Egypt's Prime Minister Sherif Ismail looks at the remains of a plane crash at the desert in central Sinai near El Arish city, north Egypt, October 31, 2015. (Reuters photo)

Hassana, Egypt:  In a desolate area of stony ground, little remains from the Russian airliner that crashed in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula except its blackened wreckage and a heap of colourful suitcases.

Rescue teams scoured the area where the Airbus A321 came down on Saturday, collecting into a pile the dead holidaymakers' belongings that were spread around the main part of the wreckage.

A pink child's sandal decorated with white flowers lay among the debris, a reminder that 17 children were among the 224 people on board the flight from the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh to St Petersburg, all of whom died.

At least 163 of the bodies have already been recovered from the jet, operated by the Russian airline Kogalymavia under the brand name Metrojet, and moved to hospitals and morgues in the capital Cairo.

On Sunday morning, about 100 Russian rescuers and investigators joined the search for remaining bodies and evidence to shed light on what happened.

Here and there clothing could be seen, packed by tourists on their way home from Sharm al-Sheikh, a favourite of Russians seeking winter sun.

Parts of the jet's wreckage were blackened and charred, with one section forming heaps of twisted metal, although the blue Metrojet logo was still visible on its broken tail fin.

As the Russian investigators moved slowly across the site, Egyptian military helicopters buzzed overhead, combing the wider area for debris - or bodies - not yet found.

A militant group affiliated to Islamic State in Egypt, Sinai Province, said in a statement it had brought down the plane "in response to Russian airstrikes that killed hundreds of Muslims on Syrian land", but Russian and Egyptian officials dismissed the claim.

Insurgents based in Sinai province have killed hundreds of Egyptian soldiers and police, and have recently also attacked Western targets.

Faded smears of blood could be seen at the crash site but all the bodies found so far have already been removed, with most now lying in Cairo's Zeinhom morgue awaiting DNA identification.

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Russian experts arrived in Egypt late on Saturday night. Airport sources said they brought with them DNA samples from relatives to help identify the dead.


 
© Thomson Reuters 2015


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