Russian Plane Crash in Egypt May Have Been Caused by Bomb; Flights Cancelled

A new U.S. intelligence analysis suggests that the crash of a Russian passenger jet in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula may have been caused by a bomb planted by ISIS, CNN reports. British Foreign Minister Philip Hammond also said the government of the UK believes there is a "significant possibility" an explosive caused the crash. 

According to the U.S. intelligence report cited by CNN, the crash was most likely caused by a bomb planted on the plane by ISIS or an affiliate. At the same time, no formal conclusion on the cause of the crash has been reached by the U.S. intelligence community. 

"This airport has lax security. It is known for that," a U.S. intelligence official told CNN. "But there is intelligence suggesting an assist from someone at the airport. "

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Flights Cancelled to the Sinai Peninsula

As a result of the crash airlines have begun to cancel flights to the region. 

The UK grounded all commercial flights to the Sinai Peninsula on Wednesday, according to the New York Times. British Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin told the Times that Egypt would have to put in place tighter long-term airport security measures before flights could resume. 

Lufthansa Group has also suspended all flights to and from Sharm el-Sheikh, the New York Times said. Two weekly flights of Lufthansa Group subsidiaries Edelweiss and Eurowings would be affected. Lufthansa said it would work with the German Foreign Ministry and trip organizers to make sure any passengers in Sharm el-Sheikh were able to return home. Flights to Cairo would not be affected by the new measures. 

Bloomberg reports that EasyJet Plc and Thomas Cook Group Plc are preparing to evacuate the approximately 10,000 tourists stranded in the area by the UK's move to ban commercial flights. EasyJet said it would model its plan on the way in which the airline extracted clients from Tunisia following the July shooting that left 30 British citizens dead. 

“EasyJet is in close contact with the U.K. government as to when we may be able to resume flights and repatriate people,” spokeswoman Anna Knowles told Bloomberg. “We would only do so when the government deems it safe it travel.”

Tomas Cook told Bloomberg it has 1,700 customers in the area who will be brought home in "due course." The company will provide free accommodations in the interim. Meanwhile, the tour operator has suspended all service through November 12. 

The U.S. State Department currently has a Security Message for U.S. Citizens in effect for the Sinai Peninsula. As a precautionary measure, the U.S. Embassy has instructed its employees not to travel anywhere in the Sinai Peninsula pending the outcome of the investigation into the crash. The Embassy will issue another message when this measure is lifted. 

Keep visiting www.travelagentcentral.com for further updates on this developing story. 

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