Egypt president makes surprise visit to Sharm el-Sheikh

Egypt president makes surprise visit to Sharm el-Sheikh
Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi made a surprise visit to Sharm el-Sheikh airport on Wednesday, in an attempt to reassure tourists that the vacation destination is 'safe' weeks after the Russian airliner crash.
2 min read
11 November, 2015
Sisi said his trip to Sharm was to 'reassure people inside and outside Egypt' [Getty]

Egypt's president made a surprise visit of the Sharm el-Sheikh airport on Wednesday, seeking to reassure tourists that the vacation destination is safe after the October crash of a Russian airliner that took off from the Red Sea resort.

Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi was returning from an Arab-South American summit in Riyadh when he made the unannounced visit.

"Our visit today aims to reassure people inside and outside Egypt," el-Sisi said after greeting some foreign tourists and wading through a packed terminal at the Red Sea resort in the Sinai Peninsula.

"We want people who come here to be secure and safe and to live and go back safely to their countries," he told private Egyptian broadcaster CBC.

All 224 people aboard the Metrojet Airbus A321 were killed in the crash in the Sinai Peninsula, which took place shortly after takeoff from Sharm el-Sheikh en route to St. Petersburg.

Most of the passengers were Russian tourists returning home.

Sisi also said that authorities have carried out regular checks on all airports over the past few months, and that other countries had been involved in the inspections.

Earlier in the day, a Russian search and rescue team that was brought to Egypt after the crash left to fly home to Moscow.

The team of 48 had been recovering bodies at the crash site in Sinai's Hassana area, some 70 kilometres (44 miles) south of the peninsula's city of el-Arish.

Other Russians remain in Egypt as part of the investigation committee seeking to determine the cause of the crash.

US and British officials have cited intelligence reports as indicating the passenger plane was likely downed by a bomb on board.

Russia last week suspended all passenger flights to Egypt in the wake of the disaster, dealing in a severe blow to Egypt's struggling tourism industry.

Moscow said the ban was necessary because of concerns about security at Egypt's airports and on Tuesday, Sergei Ivanov, the Kremlin chief of staff, said it was expected to last for at least several months.