Free Press Journal

Stranded British tourists to start departing Egyptian resort   


pic for representational purposes

Sharm El-Sheikh (Egypt): Egyptian police carried out detailed security checks today at the airport in Sharm el-Sheikh, the resort from where the doomed Russian
plane took off last weekend, after UK officials confirmed that flights will start bringing stranded British tourists home from the Sinai Peninsula.

The measures follow the crash last Saturday of Metrojet’s Airbus A321-200 that killed all 224 people on board. The plane crashed 23 minutes after takeoff from Sharm el-Sheikh en route to St Petersburg, with mostly Russian tourists aboard. Russia and Egypt have dismissed Western suggestions that a bomb may have caused the crash, saying the speculation was a rush to judgment and insisting the investigation must run its course. The United States and British leaders have stopped short of a categorical assignment of blame in the crash, but Prime Minister David Cameron said yesterday it was “more likely than not” that the cause was a bomb.

The crash prompted companies to ground flights from and to the Red Sea resort,  stranding thousands of tourists this week. EasyJet said it will run nine flights today from the Red Sea resort to London and one to Milan, while Monarch will have two scheduled flights and three additional flights. Neither carrier is operating passenger flights from the UK to Sharm el-Sheikh. On today morning, dozens of busses waited outside the Sharm el-Sheikh airport, the line stretching up to a kilometer (half mile) as police inspected each vehicle, ferrying mostly Russian and British tourists to the airport.

Britain has said that additional security measures would be in place, including only allowing passengers to carry hand baggage, while checked luggage will be transported separately. The carry-on measure applies only to those departing from Sharm el-Sheikh, British officials said. Inside the crowded airport, British tourists said today they were just anxious to get home. “We were in the first flights that were cancelled Wednesday night, we were already queuing to board,” said Amy Johnson, a 27-year-old British administrative assistant hoping to catch one of Friday’s EasyJet flights out of Sharm el-Sheikh.

Standing in a crush of hundreds waiting to pass through security, Johnson said she didn’t feel that British authorities have adequately supported the stranded tourists. “We’re being left to deal with this ourselves.” Another tourist, Terrance Mathurian, a British builder traveling with his family, said they were told by hotel staff in the morning to head to the airport, following conflicting information.