The Latest: Dutch: Security lax at Sharm el-Sheikh airport

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt (AP) — The latest on the crash of a Russian plane in Egypt that killed all 224 people onboard last Saturday. (All times local.)

12:40 p.m.

The Dutch foreign minister says his government's decision to issue a negative travel advisory this week for Sharm el-Sheikh airport was linked to lax security.

Minister Bert Koenders told reporters Friday in The Hague: "We have the impression that there are insufficient security measures there."

He stressed the advisory did not cover the whole of Egypt.

Dutch travel companies are preparing to repatriate tourists vacationing at the Egyptian Red Sea resort, the takeoff point for a Metrojet plane that crashed into the Sinai desert on Oct. 31. All 224 people aboard were killed, and U.S. and British officials fear a bomb might have blown up the plane in midair.

Laura Water, a spokeswoman for travel company TUI, says it has cancelled flights on Sunday and Tuesday from Amsterdam to Sharm el-Sheikh and will fly empty planes to the resort to pick up just under 200 of its customers. Returning passengers will only be allowed to take hand luggage on board.


12:10 p.m.

British airline easyJet says its plans to fly hundreds of stranded Britons back from the Sinai resort of Sharm el-Sheikh have been disrupted by Egyptian authorities.

The budget carrier had been due to operate 10 flights from the Red Sea resort on Friday, but said eight would not be able to operate because Egypt had suspended British flights from flying into the airport.

Monarch and British Airways said they still planned to operate flights back from Sinai on Friday.

The U.K. grounded all flights to and from Egypt's Sinai Peninsula on Wednesday, saying there was a "significant possibility" a Russian airliner that crashed Saturday, killing 224 people, was downed by a bomb.


11:50 a.m.

A spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin says Moscow is outraged at a cartoon in the French weekly Charlie Hebdo mocking the Russian plane crash in Egypt.

Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Friday that Moscow views the cartoon as "blasphemy."

It's one of dozens of cartoons in this week's edition of Charlie Hebdo, which has been beset by tensions this year over whether there should be limits, after 12 people were killed at the magazine's offices by Islamic extremists over the paper's publication of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad.

The small cartoon appears on the magazine's back page and shows plane parts and a passenger falling from the sky onto a bearded, armed man in what appears to be an Islamic robe.

The commentary reads: Islamic State: Russian aviation intensifies its bombardments.

Russians have been bombing Islamic State targets in Syria since end of September.

Lawmakers at the Russian State Duma voiced their outrage as well, calling on the government to blacklist the French publication as extremist literature and insisting that the French authorities react and apologize.


11:20 a.m.

In the Netherlands, a KLM spokeswoman would not elaborate on the Dutch carrier's decision to only allow passengers to take hand luggage on board a plane that left Cairo airport on Friday.

Gedi Schrijver repeated a KLM statement that it was a precautionary measure based on "national and international information."

She told The Associated Press that "the airport in Cairo is good, because we can fly there without restrictions, but loading baggage in the hold via Cairo airport we have decided not to do that based on the information."

She would not give any more details about the source of the information that led to the decision.

KLM has no direct flights to the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, from where the doomed Russian plane took off last Saturday.


9:40 a.m.

Dutch carrier KLM has instructed its passengers leaving from the Egyptian capital of Cairo that they can only take hand luggage on board the plane departing Friday.

A statement on KLM's website says the measure is "based on national and international information and out of precaution."

It follows a similar announcement from Britain, whose tourists are allowed to only take carry-on luggage as they start leaving the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.

Security officials at the Cairo airport told The Associated Press that flight KL554 left for Amsterdam on Friday morning with only 115 passengers out of the 247 who were booked.

The officials say the remaining passengers refused to leave without taking their check-in bags. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

—Maamoun Youssef in Cairo.


9:10 am

Egyptian police are carrying out detailed security checks around the airport at Sharm el-Sheikh — the resort from where the doomed Russian plane took off last weekend — after U.K. officials confirmed that flights will start bringing stranded British tourists home from the Sinai Peninsula.

Dozens of busses are waiting outside the airport on Friday morning, with the line stretching up to a kilometer (half mile) as police inspect each vehicle. Most of those onboard are Russian and British tourists.

Britain has said that additional security measures will be in place, including only allowing passengers to carry hand baggage, while checked luggage will be transported separately.

The Metrojet plane crashed 23 minutes after taking off from the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh for St. Petersburg last Saturday, with mostly Russians aboard.

Russia and Egypt on Thursday dismissed Western suggestions that a terrorist bomb may have caused the crash that killed 224 people, saying the speculation was a rush to judgment.