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Egypt marks anniversary of Sinai plane crash

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Cairo, Egypt | AFP | 

Egypt on Sunday commemorated the first anniversary of the Metrojet Russian airliner crash in the Sinai that killed all 224 people on board.

The aviation minister and the Russian ambassador were among those who attended a ceremony in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, from which the plane took off last October 31 before crashing 24 minutes later.

The Egyptian affiliate of the Islamic State jihadist group said it downed the plane with a bomb hidden in a drinks can.

Civil Aviation Minister Sherif Fathy reiterated the government’s condolences to the relatives of victims, expressing “our feelings of sorrow and sadness over the lives we have lost”.

Russian ambassador Serge Kirpichenko said the “sadness is ongoing and will never go away”.

Last November 17, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Russian investigators had found evidence of a bomb on board, and vowed to punish those responsible.

In February, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi acknowledged for the first time that “terrorism” caused the crash, although the government has not yet issued an official report on its cause.

Sisi had previously dismissed as “propaganda” the IS claim that it downed the airliner.

On Monday morning, a mass will be held at an Orthodox church in Sharm el-Sheikh to mourn the fallen.

Russia reacted to last year’s disaster by cancelling all flights to Egypt, and Britain also cancelled flights to the resort town, badly affecting a tourism sector already battered by unrest following the country’s 2011 revolution.

On Sunday Ambassador Kirpichenko said he was confident that flights from Russia would soon resume.

“We are certain the day and time are approaching, and quickly, for the return of Russian tourism to Egypt,” he said. “We are working on this day and night.”

 

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