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09.44 7 Nov 2015


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A spokesperson for Egypt's Ministry for Foreign Affairs has rubbished claims that a passenger jet heading to the Egyptian resort of Sharm el Sheikh had to take evasive action after the pilot spotted a missile.

According to a Daily Mail report, the Thomson flight from London Stansted came within 1,000ft of the rocket on 23rd August and later landed safely. 

On his official Twitter account, Ahmed Abu Zeid called the allegations "preposterous" and "completely inaccurate." He said there was ground-to-ground fire as part of a military exercise but there was no ground-to-air fire, and that airlines had been informed in advance.

"Egypt & UK govs fully aware that plane was in no danger," said Mr Zeid

The British Department of Transport said it investigated the reported incident, but did not confirm specific details to the Daily Mail.

A spokesman said the department concluded it was not a targeted attack but "likely to be connected to routine exercises being conducted by the Egyptian military in the area at the time".

The paper quoted a source as saying: "The first officer was in charge at the time but the pilot was in the cockpit and saw the rocket coming towards the plane.

"He ordered that the flight turn to the left to avoid the rocket, which was about 1,000ft away."

A Thomson spokesman said: "Thomson Airways can confirm that an event was reported by the crew of flight TOM 476 on 23 August 2015.

"Upon landing into Sharm el-Sheikh, an initial assessment was conducted and the event was immediately reported to the UK Department for Transport (DfT) in line with established protocol.

"The DfT conducted a full investigation in conjunction with other UK government experts. After reviewing the details of the case, the investigation concluded that there was no cause for concern and it was safe to continue our flying programme to Sharm el Sheikh."

The revelation comes in the wake of the downing of a Russian jet in the Sinai peninsula, with evidence suggesting a bomb was planted on board.

Thousands of holidaymakers remain stranded in Sharm, trying to board the small number of repatriation flights the Egyptian authorities are allowing to take off.

Islamic State affiliated terrorists active in the region have claimed responsibility for the disaster involving the Metrojet plane, which was carrying 224 people from Sharm to St Petersburg.

In the wake of the disaster it was noted by many experts that the militants were unlikely to possess the weapons necessary to shoot a plane out of the sky from more than 30,000ft.

Instead, intelligence has emerged suggesting a bomb was smuggled into the hold of the plane.


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