CAIRO: Terror group Islamic State or ISIS has claimed that it downed the Russian airliner carrying 224 people in Egypt’s Sinai peninsula today, reports said.
The crash site is in an area where the Egyptian government is fighting an insurgency led by a local Islamic State Affiliate but security sources had earlier said there was no indication that the plane had been shot down or blown up, reports said.
The IS statement, published through a messaging application, did not say how militants downed the plane.
Search and rescue teams have so far found more than 100 bodies, including those of five children, in the wreckage of the aircraft, an official at the site told Reuters.
Egyptian Civil Aviation Minister Mohamed Hossam Kemal had said it was “too soon to determine the cause”.
Egypt Prime Minister Sharif Ismail went to the scene of the crash alongside the tourism and health ministers and offered his condolences to the Russian ambassador, a government statement said.
The Metrojet (formerly Kolavia Airlines) flight had 217 passengers and seven crew members on board. A senior aviation official said it was a charter flight operated by a Russian company.
According to reports, Flight 7K9268 flying to Russia from Sharm al-Sheikh in Egypt went off radar 23 minutes after taking off.
Sergei Lzvolsky, an official with the Russian aviation agency Rosaviatsia told Interfax news agency that the plane had departed Egypt’s Red Sea resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh at 5:51 am local time (03:51 GMT).