Not the first: Passenger jet dodged missile above Sinai in August

The skies above the holiday resort of Sharm el-Sheikh have apparently not been safe for some time. Today the Daily Mail reports “A British plane carrying 189 passengers came ‘within 1,000ft’ of a rocket as it approached Sharm El Sheikh, it emerged last night.

The Thomson flight from London Stansted only took evasive action after the pilot spotted the missile speeding through the air.

The jet landed safely, and holidaymakers were not told they had been seconds from disaster.

The revelation comes amid claims British jihadists had spoken about an Islamic State ‘mole’ at Sharm el-Sheikh airport minutes after a Metrojet plane crashed in Sinai, killing all 224 on board.

An intercepted message from the group also warned of ‘something big in the area’ before the crash.

The Department for Transport confirmed the Thomson near-miss incident took place on August 23 – just two months before the Metrojet plane crash.

A source said: ‘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.’

They said the five members of cabin crew only found out about the incident after landing.

Britain is ratcheting up language for retaliation with the Defense Secretary saying “failing to bomb Islamic State in Syria was ‘morally indefensible’, after the jihadis claimed responsibility for downing the Russian jet last Saturday.” And barely a day after criticizing Britain for halting all flights to Egypt, Vladimir Putin as done the same.

In August the crew were told the rocket was from an Egyptian military exercise, but in July, the Foreign Office warned British tourists of a ‘high threat’ from terrorism and advised against travelling to northern Sinai.

“A government spokesman said: ‘We investigated the reported incident at the time and concluded that it was not a targeted attack and was likely to be connected to routine exercises being conducted by the Egyptian military in the area at the time.”

Perhaps, but a “routine exercise’ doesn’t seem it like should include shooting a missile within 1,000 feet of a passenger jet.

Not that this matters, but I was lucky enough to visit Sharm el-Sheikh in 1997 for a dive vacation. The underwater terrain in the Red Sea is magnificent, but something tells me I will not be returning there for quite some time…

[Note: This article was written by Michele Hickford]

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