Investigators in Egypt were today trying to discover the cause of a plane crash in which 141 people are feared to have died near the resort where the British Prime Minister Tony Blair is on holiday.
The Boeing 737 disappeared from radar screens shortly after take-off from the popular Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheik at 5am local time (3am Irish time).
The crash comes after a week of terrorist threat alerts that led to increased security and cancellations including three British Airways flights due to leave Heathrow.
But Egypt’s Ministry of Civil Aviation appeared to dismiss terrorism as a cause of today’s crash, describing the disaster as an “accident”.
Mr Blair, his wife Cherie, her mother Gale, the Blairs’ four children Euan, Nicky, Kathryn and Leo, and Euan’s girlfriend Katie Sanders are all understood to have been staying in the resort over the festive period.
Today a Downing Street spokesman stressed that they were safe and well: “The group has not been affected.”
It was reported locally that Mr Blair was due to meet Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in the resort later today.
The Egyptian-run Flash Airlines plane bound for Cairo was thought to be carrying 135 passengers – 127 of which were French – and six crew.
The aircraft crashed into the sea seven miles south of the resort with no reported survivors.
It is understood that the wreckage of the plane has been located close to the coast and rescue efforts are under way.