Russian airliner with 224 aboard crashes in Egypt's Sinai

The Airbus A-321 was flying from the Sinai Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh to St Petersburg in Russia.

Egypt's Sinai Peninsula. Picture: Screengrab via Google maps.

ISMAILIA/CAIRO - A Russian airliner carrying 224 passengers and crew crashed in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula on Saturday, the Egyptian civil aviation authority said, and a security officer who arrived on the scene said all aboard the plane were probably dead.

The Airbus A-321, operated by Russian airline Kogalymavia with registration number KGL-9268, was flying from the Sinai Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh to St Petersburg in Russia when it went down in a desolate mountainous area of central Sinai soon after daybreak, the aviation ministry said.

It took off at 5:51 a.m. Cairo time and disappeared from radar screens 23 minutes later, Egypt's Civil Aviation Ministry said in a statement.

The plane was completely destroyed and all those on board are likely to have died, the Egyptian security officer who arrived at the scene told Reuters by telephone.

Egyptian security sources said there was no indication that the Airbus jet had been shot down or blown up.

Sinai-based militants who support Islamic State have killed hundreds of Egyptian soldiers and police and have also attacked Western targets in recent months.

After delays caused by poor weather conditions, Egyptian search and rescue teams located the site of the crash in the Hassana area 35 km south of the Sinai Mediterranean coastal city of Al Arish, the aviation ministry statement said.

The plane was at an altitude of 9,400 metres when it vanished from radar screens, it said. Rescue service sources said so far five ambulances had managed to reach the venue of the crash.