Hundreds more UK travellers stuck in Egypt hope to fly home
Hundreds more British holidaymakers stranded in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh were hoping to return home Saturday after days of uncertainty following the Sinai plane crash.
Britain suspended flights to the Red Sea resort on Wednesday after saying it feared a bomb may have brought down the Russian jet that crashed after taking off from there last week, killing 224 people, and warning about security at the airport.
Nine flights were expected to return to Britain Saturday -- two easyJet, two Monarch, two Thomson, two Thomas Cook and one British Airways.
The first eight flights, carrying some 1,400 travellers, returned to Britain on Friday after restrictions were lifted, but tourists were only allowed to bring carry-on bags, with check-in bags due to be flown back later.
Eleven British aircraft are on standby in Cyprus to help airlift thousands of British tourists from Sharm el-Sheikh as part of a British evacuation plan, airport authorities said.
The aircraft, from Thomson, easyJet and Monarch, have been at Larnaca and Paphos international airports since Friday night.
"Based on information received by the authorities of the Cypriot airports, there seems to be difficulty in serving a large number of aircraft from the airport of Sharm el-Sheikh," said airports communication manager Adamos Aspris.
On Friday, there were tears of relief as the first passengers landed at London Gatwick.
"I'm so grateful to be home with my family. I didn't think we would come back," said Emma Turner, a 34-year-old from Kent in southeast England.
Nicky Bull, a human resources manager, said she thought many people would "question whether they ever want to go to Egypt again."
"We were told when we got on the plane that the Egyptian army and MI5 had been guarding the plane. There was no way that anybody could get at it," she added.
- 'Quite worrying' -
Moscow on Friday became the latest country to halt flights to Sharm el-Sheikh, as sources close to the investigation into the crash said black box data pointed to a bomb on board.
The Islamic State group has claimed it downed the plane, without explaining how, saying it was retaliation for Russian air strikes in Syria.
Egypt, however, pushed back on Saturday against mounting international suspicions that the plane was bombed, saying the Egyptian-led probe into the disaster had yet to establish a "hypothesis".
Ben Khosravi, 27, who was on an easyJet flight that landed at London Luton, said the screening process at Sharm el-Sheikh was lax.
"The security at Sharm was horrendous -- we had friends with lighters in their pockets, people were patting you down but not asking you to get anything out, bottles of water being passed through," he said.
"It was quite worrying how easy you could get through -- you could pay people money to fast-track it."
© 2015 AFP