Hundreds more UK travellers stuck in Egypt

2015-11-07 08:23


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Cairo - Hundreds of British holidaymakers stranded in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh were hoping to return home on Saturday after a handful of flights landed in Britain, although others were held up by logistical problems.

Britain suspended flights on Wednesday after saying it feared a bomb may have brought down a Russian jet which crashed after taking off from there last week, killing 224 people, warning about security at the airport.

Eight flights carrying some 1 400 travellers returned to Britain on Friday after restrictions were lifted but tourists were only allowed to bring carry-on bags. Check-in bags will be flown back later.

On Saturday, easyJet is due to fly two planes back from Sharm el-Sheikh, along with two from Monarch, two from Thomas Cook and one from British Airways.

There were tears of relief as passengers landed in London's Gatwick airport on Friday after days of delays, although some 2 600 Britons are still stranded at the resort.

"I'm so grateful to be home with my family. I didn't think we would come back," Emma Turner, a 34-year-old from Kent in southeast England, said after getting off at easyJet flight.

Nicky Bull, a human resources manager, said passengers were informed of increased security measures around their plane.

"I think a lot of people will question whether they ever want to go to Egypt again," she said.

"We were told when we got on the plane that the Egyptian army and MI5 had been guarding the plane. There was no way that anybody could get at it."

Egypt's civil aviation minister Hossam Kamal said that only eight out of 29 planned flights were leaving due to the requirement that passengers take only their hand luggage.

He said the airport could not accommodate more than 120 tonnes of check-in baggage left behind.

'Security was horrendous' 

Moscow on Friday became the latest country to halt flights to Sharm el-Sheikh, as sources close to the investigation into the crash said black box data pointed to a bomb on board.

The Islamic State (IS) group has claimed it down the plane, without explaining how, saying it was retaliation for Russian air strikes in Syria.

Ben Khosravi, 27, who was on another easyJet flight which landed at London Luton, painted lax picture of the screening process.

"The security at Sharm was horrendous - we had friends with lighters in their pockets, people were patting you down but not asking you to get anything out, bottles of water being passed through," he said.

"It was quite worrying how easy you could get through - you could pay people money to fast track it."

The British government held a meeting of its crisis response committee in London on Friday to review the situation at Sharm el-Sheikh airport.

"This is a hugely complex operation," a Downing Street spokesperson said afterwards.

"We continue to work closely with both the Egyptian authorities and the airline carriers to get people safely home as quickly as possible. But the sheer scale of the task poses a number of logistical complexities."

British holidaymakers should not go to Sharm el-Sheikh airport "until airlines have absolute confirmation that they will be able to travel", she added.

Read more on:    egypt  |  north africa  |  aviation

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