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St. Petersburg, Russia - Thousands Of Russians Mourn Victims Of Plane Crash In Egypt

Published on: November 1, 2015 03:00 PM
By: AP
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People gathered to light candles during a day of national mourning for the plane crash victims at Dvortsovaya (Palace) Square in St. Petersburg, Russia, on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015.  The Metrojet charter crashed Saturday morning 23 minutes after taking off from Egypt's Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, a top destination for Russian tourists. All 224 people on board died.  (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)People gathered to light candles during a day of national mourning for the plane crash victims at Dvortsovaya (Palace) Square in St. Petersburg, Russia, on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015.  The Metrojet charter crashed Saturday morning 23 minutes after taking off from Egypt's Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, a top destination for Russian tourists. All 224 people on board died.  (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)

St. Petersburg, Russia - In a massive outpouring of grief, thousands of people flocked to St. Petersburg’s airport Sunday, laying flowers, soft toys and paper planes next to the pictures of the victims of the crash of a passenger jet in Egypt that killed all 224 on board in Russia’s deadliest air crash to date.

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“I can’t remain indifferent, there were so many people from St. Petersburg on the plane,” said Yelena Vikhareva, a 48-year old sales clerk who came to the airport with her son. “The pain is piercing the heart.”

Most of the victims, except for four Ukrainians and one Belarusian, were Russian, and the majority came from St. Petersburg, Russia’s second-largest city.

Metrojet’s A321-200 crashed over the Sinai Peninsula on Saturday morning, 23 minutes after it took off from Egypt’s Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, a popular destination for Russian tourists.

Flags across Russia were flying half-staff on Sunday, the nationwide day of mourning declared by President Vladimir Putin, and Russian Orthodox priests conducted services to pray for the victims.

At St. Petersburg’s Pulkovo airport, a young woman wept as she brought a picture of one of the victims, the 23-year-old Darya Grigoryeva. She was unable to speak, saying only that Grigoryeva was her best friend since first grade of school.

Vladimir Povarov, 19, didn’t have any relatives or friends on the plane, but said he couldn’t help coming to the airport with flowers.

“We came here with my friends because we couldn’t remain indifferent,” he said. “We are frequent fliers, and it’s so horrible.”

St. Petersburg Gov. Georgy Poltavchenko said the city would provide compensations to the families of the victims and help organize funeral procedures. He ordered the mourning in the city to last for three days.

People react as they come to lay flowers and toys at an entrance of Pulkovo airport outside St. Petersburg, Russia, during a day of national mourning for the plane crash victims, on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015. Hundreds of people are bringing flowers and pictures to St. Petersburg's airport to commemorate the 224 victims of Saturday's Russian plane crash in Egypt. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)People react as they come to lay flowers and toys at an entrance of Pulkovo airport outside St. Petersburg, Russia, during a day of national mourning for the plane crash victims, on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015. Hundreds of people are bringing flowers and pictures to St. Petersburg's airport to commemorate the 224 victims of Saturday's Russian plane crash in Egypt. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)

“The grief has shown that we stand together both in joy and in grief,” he said.

As evening came, thousands gathered at the Dvortsovaya Square in front of the Hermitage Museum to light candles. They let 224 red balloons into the air with names of the victims to mark their memory.

“I have brought this teddy bear here as there are many children among the victims,” said Galina Cherempei, a 26-year-old accountant.

Oleg Chizhov, a 27-year-old engineer, brought white roses to the square. “It’s a tragedy for the city and for entire Russia,” he said. “No one could stay indifferent.”

Russia’s Emergencies Situations Ministry said it will start delivering the victims’ bodies to St. Petersburg later on Sunday.

The reason for the crash remains unknown, but the plane’s flight recorders have been recovered and a team of Egyptian and Russian experts, assisted by engineers from France where the airliner was designed, have started working on them.

Alexander Neradko, head of Russia’s federal aviation agency, said Sunday the large area over which fragments of the plane were scattered indicated that it disintegrated while flying high. Neradko wouldn’t comment on a possible reason for the crash, saying the probe is ongoing.

Islamic State militants claimed Saturday that they “brought down a Russian plane over Sinai state with more than 220 Russian crusaders on board,” but the group did not provide any evidence to back up its claim. Russian Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov dismissed the claim Saturday after talking to Egyptian officials.

The plane’s wreckage was found in northern Sinai where Egyptian security forces have for years battled local Islamic militants who in recent months claimed allegiance to the Islamic State group. Militants in northern Sinai have not to date shot down commercial airliners or fighter jets.

German carrier Lufthansa, Air France and the Dubai-based Emirates have all announced they will no longer fly over the Sinai until the cause for the plane crash has been identified.

Alexander Fridlyand, a Moscow-based aviation expert, said in televised remarks that along with equipment malfunction, another possible reason for the crash could be a bomb placed in the plane’s luggage compartment.

In the context of Russia’s air campaign against IS and other militant groups in Syria, which Putin launched on Sept. 30, some in Russia thought that IS, also known as the ISIS, could be behind the crash.

“Everyone thinks it was the ISIS, these Islamic fundamentalists,” said Mikhail Kudryavtsev, a St. Petersburg resident.

A portrait of one of victims lies next to the toys and flowers at an entrance of Pulkovo airport outside St.Petersburg, Russia, during a day of national mourning for the plane crash victims, on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015. Hundreds of people are bringing flowers and pictures to St. Petersburg's airport to commemorate the 224 victims of the Russian plane crash in Egypt. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)A portrait of one of victims lies next to the toys and flowers at an entrance of Pulkovo airport outside St.Petersburg, Russia, during a day of national mourning for the plane crash victims, on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015. Hundreds of people are bringing flowers and pictures to St. Petersburg's airport to commemorate the 224 victims of the Russian plane crash in Egypt. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)
A portrait of one of victims lies next to the toys and flowers at an entrance of Pulkovo airport outside St.Petersburg, Russia, during a day of national mourning for the plane crash victims, on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015. Hundreds of people are bringing flowers and pictures to St. Petersburg's airport to commemorate the 224 victims of the Russian plane crash in Egypt. (Credit: AP)A portrait of one of victims lies next to the toys and flowers at an entrance of Pulkovo airport outside St.Petersburg, Russia, during a day of national mourning for the plane crash victims, on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015. Hundreds of people are bringing flowers and pictures to St. Petersburg’s airport to commemorate the 224 victims of the Russian plane crash in Egypt. (Credit: AP)
People react as they come to lay flowers and toys at an entrance of Pulkovo airport outside St.Petersburg, Russia, during a day of national mourning for the plane crash victims, on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015. Hundreds of people are bringing flowers and pictures to St. Petersburg's airport to commemorate the 224 victims of the Russian plane crash in Egypt. (Credit: AP)People react as they come to lay flowers and toys at an entrance of Pulkovo airport outside St.Petersburg, Russia, during a day of national mourning for the plane crash victims, on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015. Hundreds of people are bringing flowers and pictures to St. Petersburg’s airport to commemorate the 224 victims of the Russian plane crash in Egypt. (Credit: AP)
Air France company employee, in yellow, lays flowers and toys at an entrance of Pulkovo airport outside St.Petersburg, Russia, during a day of national mourning for the plane crash victims, on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015. Hundreds of people are bringing flowers and pictures to St. Petersburg's airport to commemorate the 224 victims of the Russian plane crash in Egypt. (Credit: AP)Air France company employee, in yellow, lays flowers and toys at an entrance of Pulkovo airport outside St.Petersburg, Russia, during a day of national mourning for the plane crash victims, on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015. Hundreds of people are bringing flowers and pictures to St. Petersburg’s airport to commemorate the 224 victims of the Russian plane crash in Egypt. (Credit: AP)
A woman touches a portrait of one of victims as she comes to lay flowers and toys at an entrance of Pulkovo airport outside St.Petersburg, Russia, during a day of national mourning for the plane crash victims, on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015. Hundreds of people are bringing flowers and pictures to St. Petersburg's airport to commemorate the 224 victims of the Russian plane crash in Egypt. (Credit: AP)A woman touches a portrait of one of victims as she comes to lay flowers and toys at an entrance of Pulkovo airport outside St.Petersburg, Russia, during a day of national mourning for the plane crash victims, on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015. Hundreds of people are bringing flowers and pictures to St. Petersburg’s airport to commemorate the 224 victims of the Russian plane crash in Egypt. (Credit: AP)
A woman reacts as she comes to lay flowers and toys at an entrance of Pulkovo airport outside St.Petersburg, Russia, during a day of national mourning for the plane crash victims, on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015. Hundreds of people are bringing flowers and pictures to St. Petersburg's airport to commemorate the 224 victims of the Russian plane crash in Egypt. (Credit: AP)A woman reacts as she comes to lay flowers and toys at an entrance of Pulkovo airport outside St.Petersburg, Russia, during a day of national mourning for the plane crash victims, on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015. Hundreds of people are bringing flowers and pictures to St. Petersburg’s airport to commemorate the 224 victims of the Russian plane crash in Egypt. (Credit: AP)
A couple react as they come to lay flowers and toys at an entrance of Pulkovo airport outside St.Petersburg, Russia, during a day of national mourning for the plane crash victims, on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015. Hundreds of people are bringing flowers and pictures to St. Petersburg's airport to commemorate the 224 victims of the Russian plane crash in Egypt. (Credit: AP)A couple react as they come to lay flowers and toys at an entrance of Pulkovo airport outside St.Petersburg, Russia, during a day of national mourning for the plane crash victims, on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015. Hundreds of people are bringing flowers and pictures to St. Petersburg’s airport to commemorate the 224 victims of the Russian plane crash in Egypt. (Credit: AP)
A man and children come to lay flowers and toys at an entrance of Pulkovo airport outside St.Petersburg, Russia, during a day of national mourning for the plane crash victims, on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015. The Russian Metrojet airliner crashed Saturday in a remote mountainous part of Egypt's Sinai Peninsula 23 minutes after taking off from a popular Red Sea resort, killing all 224 people on board, including 25 children. (Credit: AP)A man and children come to lay flowers and toys at an entrance of Pulkovo airport outside St.Petersburg, Russia, during a day of national mourning for the plane crash victims, on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015. The Russian Metrojet airliner crashed Saturday in a remote mountainous part of Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula 23 minutes after taking off from a popular Red Sea resort, killing all 224 people on board, including 25 children. (Credit: AP)
La bandera rusa ondea a media hasta en lo alto del edificio del Senado en el Kremlin con motivo del d�a de luto oficial en Mosc�, el 1 de noviembre de 2015, tras el accidente de un avi�n de una operadora rusa en la peninsula del Sina�, en Egipto. (Foto AP/Pavel Golovkin) (Credit: AP)La bandera rusa ondea a media hasta en lo alto del edificio del Senado en el Kremlin con motivo del d�a de luto oficial en Mosc�, el 1 de noviembre de 2015, tras el accidente de un avi�n de una operadora rusa en la peninsula del Sina�, en Egipto. (Foto AP/Pavel Golovkin) (Credit: AP)
People light candles inside an Orthodox church in St.Petersburg during a day of national mourning for the plane crash victims, Russia, on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015. The Russian Metrojet airliner crashed Saturday in a remote mountainous part of Egypt's Sinai Peninsula 23 minutes after taking off from a popular Red Sea resort, killing all 224 people on board, including 25 children. (Credit: AP)People light candles inside an Orthodox church in St.Petersburg during a day of national mourning for the plane crash victims, Russia, on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015. The Russian Metrojet airliner crashed Saturday in a remote mountainous part of Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula 23 minutes after taking off from a popular Red Sea resort, killing all 224 people on board, including 25 children. (Credit: AP)
A couple lay flowers in front of the Russian Embassy in Minsk, Belarus, 01 November 2015. An Airbus A321 operated by the small Russian airline Kogalymavia, crashed on 31 October in Egypt shortly after taking off from the popular resort town of Sharm al-Sheikh, killing all 224 people on board, almost all Russians. (Credit: EPA)A couple lay flowers in front of the Russian Embassy in Minsk, Belarus, 01 November 2015. An Airbus A321 operated by the small Russian airline Kogalymavia, crashed on 31 October in Egypt shortly after taking off from the popular resort town of Sharm al-Sheikh, killing all 224 people on board, almost all Russians. (Credit: EPA)
A boy lays flowers in front of the Russian Embassy in Minsk, Belarus, 01 November 2015. An Airbus A321 operated by the small Russian airline Kogalymavia, crashed on 31 October in Egypt shortly after taking off from the popular resort town of Sharm al-Sheikh, killing all 224 people on board, almost all Russians. (Credit: EPA)A boy lays flowers in front of the Russian Embassy in Minsk, Belarus, 01 November 2015. An Airbus A321 operated by the small Russian airline Kogalymavia, crashed on 31 October in Egypt shortly after taking off from the popular resort town of Sharm al-Sheikh, killing all 224 people on board, almost all Russians. (Credit: EPA)
A father with his son lay flowers in front of the Russian Embassy in Minsk, Belarus, 01 November 2015. An Airbus A321 operated by the small Russian airline Kogalymavia, crashed on 31 October in Egypt shortly after taking off from the popular resort town of Sharm al-Sheikh, killing all 224 people on board, almost all Russians. (Credit: EPA)A father with his son lay flowers in front of the Russian Embassy in Minsk, Belarus, 01 November 2015. An Airbus A321 operated by the small Russian airline Kogalymavia, crashed on 31 October in Egypt shortly after taking off from the popular resort town of Sharm al-Sheikh, killing all 224 people on board, almost all Russians. (Credit: EPA)
Russian people light candles to the memory of victims of the Russian MetroJet Airbus A321 accident in Sinai, Egypt, near The Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow, Russia, 01 November 2015. A Russian plane with 224 aboard crashed in the Sinai, Egypt on 31 October 2015, killing all on board. (Credit: EPA)Russian people light candles to the memory of victims of the Russian MetroJet Airbus A321 accident in Sinai, Egypt, near The Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow, Russia, 01 November 2015. A Russian plane with 224 aboard crashed in the Sinai, Egypt on 31 October 2015, killing all on board. (Credit: EPA)
Russian people react during they lay flowers and light candles to memory of victims of the Russian MetroJet Airbus A321 accident in Sinai, Egypt, at the Pulkovo airport in St. Petersburg, Russia, 01 November 2015. A Russian plane which went missing in Egypt on 31 October 2015 with 224 aboard has crashed in the Sinai, the Egyptian Civil Aviation Ministry confirmed. The ministry said in a statement that the debris from the plane had been found near the al-Arish airport, in the Sinai Peninsula. The plane was on a flight to St Petersburg, in Russia, reports stated. (Credit: EPA)Russian people react during they lay flowers and light candles to memory of victims of the Russian MetroJet Airbus A321 accident in Sinai, Egypt, at the Pulkovo airport in St. Petersburg, Russia, 01 November 2015. A Russian plane which went missing in Egypt on 31 October 2015 with 224 aboard has crashed in the Sinai, the Egyptian Civil Aviation Ministry confirmed. The ministry said in a statement that the debris from the plane had been found near the al-Arish airport, in the Sinai Peninsula. The plane was on a flight to St Petersburg, in Russia, reports stated. (Credit: EPA)
Russian people lay flowers and light candles to memory of victims of the Russian MetroJet Airbus A321 accident in Sinai, Egypt, at the Pulkovo airport in St. Petersburg, Russia, 01 November 2015. A Russian plane which went missing in Egypt on 31 October 2015 with 224 aboard has crashed in the Sinai, the Egyptian Civil Aviation Ministry confirmed. The ministry said in a statement that the debris from the plane had been found near the al-Arish airport, in the Sinai Peninsula. The plane was on a flight to St Petersburg, in Russia, reports stated. (Credit: EPA)Russian people lay flowers and light candles to memory of victims of the Russian MetroJet Airbus A321 accident in Sinai, Egypt, at the Pulkovo airport in St. Petersburg, Russia, 01 November 2015. A Russian plane which went missing in Egypt on 31 October 2015 with 224 aboard has crashed in the Sinai, the Egyptian Civil Aviation Ministry confirmed. The ministry said in a statement that the debris from the plane had been found near the al-Arish airport, in the Sinai Peninsula. The plane was on a flight to St Petersburg, in Russia, reports stated. (Credit: EPA)
Russian people lay flowers and light candles to memory of victims of the Russian MetroJet Airbus A321 accident in Sinai, Egypt, at the Pulkovo airport in St. Petersburg, Russia, 01 November 2015. A Russian plane which went missing in Egypt on 31 October 2015 with 224 aboard has crashed in the Sinai, the Egyptian Civil Aviation Ministry confirmed. The ministry said in a statement that the debris from the plane had been found near the al-Arish airport, in the Sinai Peninsula. The plane was on a flight to St Petersburg, in Russia, reports stated. (Credit: EPA)Russian people lay flowers and light candles to memory of victims of the Russian MetroJet Airbus A321 accident in Sinai, Egypt, at the Pulkovo airport in St. Petersburg, Russia, 01 November 2015. A Russian plane which went missing in Egypt on 31 October 2015 with 224 aboard has crashed in the Sinai, the Egyptian Civil Aviation Ministry confirmed. The ministry said in a statement that the debris from the plane had been found near the al-Arish airport, in the Sinai Peninsula. The plane was on a flight to St Petersburg, in Russia, reports stated. (Credit: EPA)
Russian people lay flowers and light candles to memory of victims of the Russian MetroJet Airbus A321 accident in Sinai, Egypt, at the Pulkovo airport in St. Petersburg, Russia, 01 November 2015. A Russian plane which went missing in Egypt on 31 October 2015 with 224 aboard has crashed in the Sinai, the Egyptian Civil Aviation Ministry confirmed. The ministry said in a statement that the debris from the plane had been found near the al-Arish airport, in the Sinai Peninsula. The plane was on a flight to St Petersburg, in Russia, reports stated. (Credit: EPA)Russian people lay flowers and light candles to memory of victims of the Russian MetroJet Airbus A321 accident in Sinai, Egypt, at the Pulkovo airport in St. Petersburg, Russia, 01 November 2015. A Russian plane which went missing in Egypt on 31 October 2015 with 224 aboard has crashed in the Sinai, the Egyptian Civil Aviation Ministry confirmed. The ministry said in a statement that the debris from the plane had been found near the al-Arish airport, in the Sinai Peninsula. The plane was on a flight to St Petersburg, in Russia, reports stated. (Credit: EPA)
Russian people lay flowers and light candles to memory of victims of the Russian MetroJet Airbus A321 accident in Sinai, Egypt, at the Pulkovo airport in St. Petersburg, Russia, 01 November 2015. A Russian plane which went missing in Egypt on 31 October 2015 with 224 aboard has crashed in the Sinai, the Egyptian Civil Aviation Ministry confirmed. The ministry said in a statement that the debris from the plane had been found near the al-Arish airport, in the Sinai Peninsula. The plane was on a flight to St Petersburg, in Russia, reports stated. (Credit: EPA)Russian people lay flowers and light candles to memory of victims of the Russian MetroJet Airbus A321 accident in Sinai, Egypt, at the Pulkovo airport in St. Petersburg, Russia, 01 November 2015. A Russian plane which went missing in Egypt on 31 October 2015 with 224 aboard has crashed in the Sinai, the Egyptian Civil Aviation Ministry confirmed. The ministry said in a statement that the debris from the plane had been found near the al-Arish airport, in the Sinai Peninsula. The plane was on a flight to St Petersburg, in Russia, reports stated. (Credit: EPA)


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