Sharm el-Sheikh hotel staff questioned in airliner crash probe

Egyptian police were questioning employees of Sharm el-Sheikh hotels as they investigated whether a bomb may have been planted in the luggage of unsuspecting holidaymakers who boarded the doomed Metrojet flight.

Sharm el-Sheikh hotel staff questioned in airliner crash probe

Workers, including cleaners, were being closely looked at as they had access to passengers’ hotel rooms, as police tried to establish how a bomb could have ended up in the aircraft’s luggage hold.

Thousands of Russians holidaymakers were heading home from Egypt aboard special planes sent by Moscow, which has suspended all flights to Egypt amid security concerns in the aftermath of the October 31 plane crash of the Russian airliner that killed all 224 people on board.

Other airliners from Britain and Western Europe also are arriving to bring their nationals home, after several countries and airlines last week suspended new flights to Egypt because of the security concerns as suspicions focused on the possibility that a bomb caused the Metrojet crash.

US and British officials have cited intelligence reports as indicating that the October 31 flight from the Sinai resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh to St Petersburg was brought down by a bomb on board. Most of the 224 people onboard were Russian tourists.

Russia’s deputy prime minister Arkady Dvorkovich said it would take about two weeks to bring all the stranded Russian tourists back home.

Dvorkovich, who has been made the point-man for the repatriation in the wake of the Russian plane crash in Sinai, said earlier in the day 25,000 have already been brought back home since the weekend.

Russian prime minister Dmitry Medvedev said he does not expect flights to Egypt to resume any time soon, saying that “it will take time” to ensure safety of travellers in Egypt. He stopped short of giving a timeline for that.

Security concerns over Egyptian procedures have also gained attention in recent days.

Security officials at the Sharm el-Sheikh airport have said that the facility has long had gaps in security, including a key baggage scanning device that often is not functioning and lax searches at an entry gate for food and fuel for the planes.

Dutch carrier KLM announced that it would begin using “its own personnel to carry out security screening” of checked-in luggage on flights out of Cairo airport.

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