25 000 Russians return home from Egypt amid terrorism fears

2015-11-09 14:05
Dmitry Medvedev (AFP)

Dmitry Medvedev (AFP)

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Moscow - About 25 000 Russian tourists returned home from Egypt over the weekend, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said, amid fears that a terrorist bomb could have brought down an airliner last week.

Russian tourists are returning "in closest possible accordance with their tour dates," Medvedev told a cabinet meeting on Monday, state news agency TASS reported.

He said there were about 55 000 Russian tourists still in the country.

The deputy head of a Russian tourism lobby group said that thousands of Russians were flying home on regular commercial flights, but without their luggage.

"The process is like normal. Everyone is on their holidays according to their packages, and when they're done they fly home on their regular flights, but without luggage," Dmitry Gorin of the Association of Tour Operators of Russia told the Russian News Service.

Planes to take tourists back to Russia were set to arrive in Egypt without passengers, Gorin told the Vedomosti newspaper.

The Emergency Services Ministry said it was transporting tourists' luggage back home on cargo jets. Four such flights were planned to take place Monday, the ministry said on its website.

Arab Spring

President Vladimir Putin ordered a suspension of passenger flights from Russia to Egypt after an airliner apparently exploded on october 31 while flying over Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, killing all 224 people aboard.

Putin's order did not forbid passenger flights from Egypt and called for the government to ensure that all citizens be allowed to return home.

A long-term suspension of flights from Russia will hurt Egypt's economy. Egypt is the most popular tourism destination among Russians, Vedomosti reported, citing Russia's Federal Agency for Tourism.

During Egypt's Arab Spring protests in 2011, Egypt lost about 200 million dollars in tourist revenue as Russia recommended for a couple of months that its citizens not travel there, the Vedomosti report said.

Russian airline Metrojet's Flight 9268 crashed on October 31 about 20 minutes after taking off from the Egyptian resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh to Russia's second largest city, St Petersburg.

There are two main theories for the disaster: a bomb placed on the Airbus A321 exploded, or a part of the 18-year-old plane's fuselage that was damaged more than a decade earlier succumbed to the cabin pressurisation and ripped apart.

An affiliate of ISIS claimed responsibility for downing the airliner as revenge for Russia's airstrike campaign against the group in Syria.

Read more on:    isis  |  russia  |  egypt  |  air crashes

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