ISMAILIA, Egypt/CAIRO (Reuters) – A Russian airliner carrying 224 passengers and crew crashed in Egypt’s Sinai peninsula on Saturday, the Egyptian civil aviation authority said, and a security officer who arrived at the scene said most of the passengers appeared to have been killed.

The Airbus A 321, operated by Russian airline Kogalymavia,was flying from the Sinai Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh to St Petersburg in Russia when it went down in a desolate mountainous area of central Sinai soon after daybreak, the aviation ministry said.

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The security officer at the scene told Reuters by telephone that search and rescue teams heard voices in a section of the plane.

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“I now see a tragic scene. A lot of dead on the ground and many who died whilst strapped to their seats,” the officer, who requested anonymity, said.

“The plane split into two, a small part on the tail end that burned and a larger part that crashed into a rock. We have extracted at least 100 bodies and the rest are still inside.”

Sinai is the scene of an insurgency by militants who support Islamic State. The rebels have killed hundreds of Egyptian soldiers and police and have also attacked Western targets in recent months.

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