[아시아엔=라드와 아시라프 기자·번역 최정아 기자] 러시아 코갈림아비아 항공 여객기 A321가 이집트 시나이반도 상공에서 추락해 승객 224명 전원이 사망했다. 사고당시 A321기는 오전 이집트 시나이반도 남부 휴양지 샤름엘셰이크에서 이륙해 러시아로 향하고 있었다. 승객 대부분은 러시아 관광객이었으며, 어린 아이도 최소 20명이 사망했다.
이집트 당국은 “일부 시체가 사고현장에서 5km 떨어진 지점에서 발견됐다”며 “발견된 시체 중엔 3살 어린 소녀도 있었다”고 밝혔다.
이집트, 러시아 당국뿐만 아니라 프랑스 에어버스 관계자들도 이번 사고 수색작업에 참여하기로 했다. 러시아 항공운송협회(Air Transport Agency)의 알렉산드라 네라드코는 “높은 고도에서 기체가 부서진 것으로 추정된다”며 “IS의 소행이라는 주장은 옳지 않다”고 밝혔다.
이집트 관계자 또한 “여객기가 레이더에서 사라지기 직전 무선통신 장치가 고장 나 가장 가까운 공항에 비상착륙하겠다고 연락했다”며 “이륙 직전 35분정도 여객기를 점검했으나, 당시 여객기에 아무 이상이 없던 것으로 기록돼 있다”고 말했다.
하지만 사고 여객기 조종사의 부인이 현지 언론과의 인터뷰에서 “이륙 전 남편이 기술적인 문제로 불만을 했었다”며 “사고 여객기는 한 주간 16차례 정도 비행을 해왔으며, 2001년 수도 카이로에서 착륙하던 중 사고가 있어 계속 수리를 해왔던 것으로 안다”고 말했다.
한편 프랑스 국적의 에어프랑스와 독일의 루프트한자, 중동의 에미리트 항공은 조사 결과가 나올 때까지 시나이 반도 상공의 비행을 금지한다고 밝혔다.
Russian plane crash in Sinai kills 224 passengers
Russian and Egyptian investigators are investigating the crash of a Russian airliner in Sinai that killed all 224 people on board. The plane crashed 23 minutes into its flight from Sharm el-Sheikh to St Petersburg on Saturday 31st of October.
The Kogalymavia Airbus A321 came down early on Saturday, shortly after leaving the resort of Sharm el-Sheikh for the Russian city of St Petersburg, with most of its passengers being Russian tourists with more than 20 children. Russian and French investigators have joined the Egyptian-led investigation, along with experts from Airbus, which is headquartered in France.
Egyptian officials said some bodies had been recovered within a radius of 5km on Saturday, but that of a three-year-old girl was found 8km from the scene. One unnamed official told Reuters the plane appeared to have split in two in midair, with one part burning up and the other crashing into a rock.
The head of Russia’s Air Transport Agency, Aleksandr Neradko, said that “all signs attest to the fact that the aircraft disintegrated in the air at a high altitude”. While ISIS militants claimed their responsibility of the attack, officials dismissed that claim and said nothing is certain until we make sure of the flight’s records that were recovered.
Egypt’s civil aviation minister Hossam Kamal said there had been no sign of any problems on board the flight, contradicting earlier reports that the pilot had asked to make an emergency landing.
An Egyptian ground service official who carried out a pre-flight inspection of the plane said the aircraft appeared to be in good shape. “We are all shocked. It was a good plane. Everything checked out in 35 minutes,” the official told AP.
However, the widow of the plane’s co-pilot told Russian TV her husband had complained about the aircraft’s technical condition in a phone call before the plane took off. Local media reported that the A321 had flown 16 times in the week before the tragedy and had suffered one previous accident, when the tail struck the runway on landing in Cairo in 2001, after which it underwent extensive repairs.
At least 163 bodies have been recovered and transported to various hospitals and morgues, including the Zeinhom morgue in Cairo before flying them back to Russia, according to a cabinet statement.
BBC reported that a number of major airlines ? Emirates, Air France-KLM, Lufthansa, and Qatar Airways ? have decided not to fly over the Sinai Peninsula until more information is available. Two smaller carriers, flydubai and Air Arabia, also said they would re-route flights, while Etihad Airways said it would avoid only “certain areas of airspace” over Sinai.
Russian president Vladimir Putin announced a mourning day as Russian people gather to mourn the death of their families. While efforts made by Egypt’s president Abdel-Fatah El-Sisi were highly apperciated by Russian news outlets.