CAIRO -- A Russian charter plane carrying 224 people crashed in a mountainous part of Egypt's Sinai Peninsula Saturday, killing everyone on board, officials said. The Islamic State (IS) group affiliate in Egypt claimed it downed the plane, without saying how, but an Egyptian security official said the plane did not crash because of an attack. Russian Transport Minister Maksim Sokolov said the IS claim "cannot be considered accurate", adding that authorities in Egypt "have no such information that would confirm such insinuations," Russian news agencies reported.
The Airbus A321 with 214 Russian and three Ukranian passengers and seven crew, had taken off from the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh in south Sinai bound for Saint Petersburg. It lost contact with air traffic control 23 minutes later.
Egyptian security and medical officials said there were no survivors, and that bodies and debris were spread over around five square kilometres (two square miles).
The Russian embassy in Cairo said: "Unfortunately, all passengers of Kogalymavia flight 9268 Sharm el-Sheikh-Saint Petersburg have died. We issue condolences to family and friends."
The wreckage was found roughly 100 kilometres (60 miles) south of the North Sinai town of El-Arish, Egyptian officials said.
The IS affiliate waging an insurgency in the Sinai claimed that "the soldiers of the caliphate succeeded in bringing down a Russian plane". It said this was in revenge for Russian air strikes against IS in Syria.
Three military experts said ISIS in Sinai does not have surface-to-air missiles capable of hitting a plane at high altitude.
But they could not exclude the possibility of a bomb on board or a surface-to-air missile strike if the aircraft had descended for an emergency landing.
The Kremlin said President Vladimir Putin ordered rescue teams dispatched to Egypt.
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and his French counterpart Francois Hollande sent Moscow their condolences.
The chartered flight was flying at 30,000 feet when communications were lost.
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