Friday, November 06, 2015

Metrojet 9268 - What Happened ?

Important Update for November 7 added further down !

In the days following the aircraft disaster of Metrojet 9268, bound from Sharm El-Sheikh to Saint Petersburg on October 31, 2015, the Arabic press was chewing on different, rather odd circumstances that might have been related to the crash of an Airbus A-321.

When the plane broke apart in mid-air, thus causing the death of 224 passengers and crew members, wild and curious theories were spread.

أي تفسير لصدفة غريبة عن طائرة مصرية والطائرة الروسية؟

How to interpret a strange coincidence [between the
case of] an Egyptian plane and the Russian plane?

ركاب الروسية 217 وسقطت في 31 أكتوبر، وفيه سقطت طائرة مصرية بعدد الأشخاص نفسه

On October 31, 217 Russian passengers crashed, and an
Egyptian plane crashed with [lots] of people in it.

من غرائب الصدف، واحدة دموية عن طائرتين، الفارق بينهما 15 سنة تماما، لكن ما يجمعهما أكثر بكثير: روسية سقطت السبت 31 أكتوبر 2015 فوق سيناء وركابها 217 شخصاً، ومصرية سقطت الأحد 31 أكتوبر 1999 فوق الماء، وعليها 217 شخصاً أيضاً.ـ

It's a strange coincidence and especially bloody [for] two airplanes, 15 years apart from each other, however with lots of [passengers]: The Russian one that crashed with 217 passengers over Sinai on October 31, 2015, and the Egyptian one that crashed with 217 people, as well, over the sea on October 31, 1999.

One of them found a strange coincidence with the crash of an Egypt Air plane and which had perished exactly 15 years ago on October 31, 1999, leaving 217 persons dead. It should be noted that 217 was as well the official death toll of the Metrojet disaster at that time and which was later changed to 224. Interesting about that case is the fact that in 1999 U.S. and Egyptian investigations came to different conclusions as to the reason of Egypt Air flight 990 crashing shortly after its departure from New York into international waters. While U.S. authorities offered convincing evidence that a co-pilot of Egypt Air had deliberately crashed the plane after having been licensed for misbehaviour shortly before the flight, Egyptian authorities found it too embarrassing to accept such explication. They instead presented a rather technically based cause for the air crash.

زائر من الفضاء ربما شطر الطائرة الروسية في الجو

A visitor from space was probably tearing apart the Russian plane in the air.

كويكب مر السبت قرب الأرض قد يكون المسبب بتمزق هيكل "الإيرباص 321" المنكوبة

An asteroid passing near the Earth on Saturday might be the cause
of structural fragmentation of the unfortunate Airbus A-321.

Another theory, even more odd than the first, was based on the fact that on October 31, i.e. on Halloween Day, the so-called "Halloween Asteroid" or "Great Pumpkin", officially named 2015 TB145, should have made its closest approach to the Earth. However, a "Sci-News" report said that no harm was to be expected from the asteroid. In such cases I tend to put more faith into scientific results than into wild speculations of some debris from an asteroid crashing into the Metrojet airliner.

Putting all those theories aside, one thing, at least, seems to be clear: There should have been no missile attack by Egyptian insurgents, as they don't possess the means to get down an airliner from 9000 m altitude. This is what different military circles, not only those from Egypt, are pointing out.

أوباما: هناك احتمال بوجود قنبلة في الطائرة الروسية

Obama: There is some probability of a bomb existing in the Russian plane.

القاهرة وموسكو تعتبران التصريحات البريطانية والأميركية "مجرد استنتاجات"ـ

Kairo and Moscow are considering the proclamations
of Britain and the U.S. as a "poor conclusion".

As to the actual U.S. evaluation blaming the Islamic State ISIL for having brought down the Russian passenger plane with a bomb: This now seems to be a more probable cause for the Metrojet air crash. News sources on September 5, 2015, are even hinting at the support of such bombing by some ground staff at Sharm El-Sheikh airport.

Having experienced the passport checks and security controls at Sharm El-Sheikh airport only recently, I cannot help to support such theory. Even though passenger controls are meeting international standard, there are many, maybe too many, members of the Egyptian tourist board moving freely within the controlled zone of the airport. I don't want to blame anyone special, but it took me by surprise when, at my arrival, one of those guys managed to get me through the passport control, just exchanging some words with the official in charge to make him stamp my passport, and by simply passing a dozen other passengers waiting in a line for their immigration check. Same happened at the final security check, immediately in front of the airport exit. As I arrived in the middle of the night, I was not embarrassed at all but grateful for such treatment. And, of course, there was no real harm done to security needs because all luggage is being checked again at the entrance of any hotel before it can be moved into the hotel lobby. As to the departure control, I remember as well two security checks, one at the entrance to the check-in counters and the other after the passport check. I even experienced a double passport-check, same kind as is being practised in Istanbul, Turkey, even for transit passengers.

Altogether I cannot blame Egyptian officials for being unprofessional. However, access to the controlled area of Sharm El-Sheikh airport should be restricted to only a few "tourist guides" that are really needed. And even in the frame of extended security needs, it is wise to remember that this is the Orient where things are not always happening as we are used to. Instead, we should face the fact that even the tightest control cannot exclude a final risk we all have to live with.

Latest News on November 7, 2015:

CNN Report: Black boxes show bomb brought down Russian jet


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