Thousands of Britons stuck in Egypt after flights cancelled

At least 2000 Britons trapped at Sharm el-Sheikh after flights cancelled over rising terror fears

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

Russian investigators stand near debris, luggage and personal effects of passengers a day after a passenger jet bound for St. Petersburg in Russia crashed in Hassana, Egypt.[AP]

More than 2000 tourists from Britain were stranded at Sharm el-Sheikh on Wednesday after all flights to and from the UK were suspended as a part of a massive security clampdown.

The decision of cancelling all flights came after the latest intelligence which indicated that the Metrojet airliner may have blown apart by an explosive planted on board.

Following the declaration, British officials launched an emergency plan to evacuate thousands of holidaymakers who were trapped in the popular holiday resort.  

Security measures at Sharm El-Sheikh were increased, piling up scores of armed police forces with bulletproof vests and heading all vehicles to the terminal.

British Prime Minister David Cameron also called Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to discuss about how “the tightest possible security arrangements” have been made.   

The day before, British Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond apologised to the citizens who were stranded at Sharm el-Sheikh for the "immense disruption and inconvenience" adding that the government will not let any aircraft to leave as a safety measure.

“I recognise that this action will cause immense disruption and inconvenience to many people and I apologise for the people this evening who have gone out to the airport and now have to go back to their hotels,” Hammond said.

"I also recognise the immense impact this will have on the Egyptian economy but we have to put the safety and security of British nationals above all other considerations,” he added.

“When we are in possession of information we will not hesitate to act on it to protect the security of British nationals."  

The Egypt foreign minister criticized the attempt calling it as a "premature and unwarranted" step that would hit the country’s industry harshly.  

However Hammond continued to defend the country’s decision saying that "I recognise his concern, but with respect to him he hasn't seen all the information we have. While we regard the Egyptians as very important partners we cannot ignore that information."

Mr.Hammond also announced that consular staff have been sent to Sharm el-Sheikh to assist the stranded citizens besides the tour operators who have managed the situation at the resort successfully until now.

"We are working with the airlines and the Egyptian authorities to put in place additional screening and additional security to ensure they can get home safely, either on their original return dates or if they wish to leave earlier on an earlier date," he said.

TRTWorld and agencies