Russian passenger plane crashes in Sinai, Egypt Prime Minister says – CNN

*The plane crashed in the northern part of Sinai, near a town called Housna — 185 miles (300 kilometers) from Sharm el-Sheikh, according to the office of the Egyptian Prime Minister. This is a mountainous region. The crash site has been spotted from the air by Egyptian Air Force planes, but has not yet been reached on the ground, officials said.

* 224 people were reported to be aboard, including 217 passengers and seven crew members. The passengers included 17 children. There is no word on survivors, according to Egyptian officials. Also, the Foreign Ministry of Belarus says its embassy in Egypt is working to determine whether Belarusian citizens were on board.

* The airliner was on its way from the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, at the southern tip of the Sinai peninsula, to St. Petersburg, Russia, according to Sputnik news, an official Russian news agency.

* Egyptian air traffic control said it lost contact with the Russian airliner 23 minutes after takeoff according to Sputnik news. Many of the passengers were reported to be Russians returning from vacations. The plane disappeared at 6:20 a.m. local time.

* Russia 24, a state-owned news channel, as well as other Russian media outlets, are saying the pilot reported technical problems and requested a landing at the nearest airport before the plane went missing. This has not been corroborated by officials. Russia 24 also quotes the FlightRadar 24 website as saying that the plane was descending at a rate of 1,800 meters per minute, or 67 miles per hour, before radar contact was lost.

* The plane, Kogalymavia Flight 9268, was an Airbus 321, Russian state media reported. The airline is commonly known as Metrojet.

* Weather in the area was clear.

* The Russian emergency ministry will send three planes to the area to help with possible rescues and the investigation. Russia has opened a hotline for relatives, many of whom have already gathered at the airport in St. Petersburg.

* Insurgents aligned with the terrorist group ISIS operate in parts of the Sinai, which could complicate rescue efforts, as could the difficult terrain. It is not yet known whether the crash site is in a conflict area.

Officials scrambling for information

Russia’s Foreign Ministry reported on its official Facebook page that staff at the Russian embassy in Egypt were monitoring the situation. The page, quoting Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, said more information would be released as soon as it was available.

More information is expected soon from the from the Egyptian Prime Minister’s office, as well.

Airbus, the plane’s maker issued a statement on Twitter.

“We are aware of the media reports,” the tweet read. “Efforts are now going towards assessing the situation. We’ll provide more information as soon as available.”

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