International passengers departing Egypt’s Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh continued to line up for flights on Sunday, as the first of three teams of Russian inspectors was dispatched to the country to examine airport security following the Oct. 31 airline disaster.
The Russian flight’s crash in the Sinai Peninsula that killed all 224 people onboard continues to generate fallout, after the Islamic State claimed responsibility for its downing and U.S. and British officials say intelligence shows it was likely brought down by a bomb on board.
Britain and several airlines have stopped normally scheduled flights to the resort, while Russia has suspended all flights to Egypt because of security concerns.
British Foreign Secretary Phillip Hammond told the BBC on Sunday that if the bomb is confirmed, it will require a potential rethinking of airport security in all areas where the terrorist group is active.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich did not give details on what specific security issues the inspections teams would be examining. Dvorkovich said that 11,000 Russians were flown home from Egypt on Saturday and an even larger number were expected to leave Sunday, according to Russian news agencies.
Security officials at the Sharm el-Sheikh airport have told The Associated Press that the facility has long had gaps in security, including a key baggage scanning device that often is not functioning and lax searches at an entry gate for food and fuel for the planes. One security official said contraband and weapons slip through security checks at the airport because poorly paid policemen monitoring X-ray machines can be bribed.
Egyptian authorities have bristled at the allegations of lax security, with some blaming an anti-Egypt bias in the foreign media. Those sensitivities were on display Sunday as foreign camera crews were prevented from filming inside the Sharm el-Sheikh airport, along the city’s main tourist strip in Naama Bay, or in other public spaces.