25K Russians have left Egypt since evacuations began
Russian tourists in Egypt - Getty images

CAIRO: A total of 25,000 Russian nationals have left Egypt since the beginning of the week, Russian news agency TASS quoted Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich Monday.

Russia has recently decreed a “temporary” suspension to its flights to Egypt as a “security measure,” until ongoing investigations into a Russian plane crash over Sinai declare the cause.

That followed a flight suspension by at least seven countries to Sharm el-Sheikh Red Sea resort, from which the ill-fated jet departed Oct. 31 and crashed 23 minutes later over the peninsula, killing all 224 passengers and crew aboard.

A 47-member committee of Egyptian, Russian, German, French and Irish experts was formed to investigate the reasons for the crash, and stated Saturday that the debris was consistent with an “in-flight break-up,” but added that it needed further time to ascertain the cause of the “break-up.”

Earlier claims by the Islamic State (IS) militants of downing the jet were denied by both Egyptian and Russian officials as “not accurate.” However, the probability of a bomb attack by the militant group’s branch in Sinai was suspected by U.S intelligence based on their interception of communications between IS leaders.

The investigative committee urged media to stick to official statements about the crash, after news reports anonymously quoted members of the committee as highly supporting the bomb scenario, after a noise was heard on a retrieved cockpit recorder.

Recent statements by the Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev leaned to accepting that a bomb attack could be one of the causes of the crash.

Russia tops countries sending tourists to Egypt, with around 3 million visiting the country during 2014; the United Kingdom comes in second place.

During August 2015, a total of 231,000 Russian tourists visited Egypt, according to a monthly report by the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS.)

Amid fears of the current evacuations would affect the Europeans’ closest destination city, Sharm el-Sheikh, a number of initiatives promoting tourism in Egypt surfaced calling on Egyptians to spend their vacations in the resort.

The government is also planning a price reduction for bus tickets to Sharm el-Sheikh to encourage internal tourism.

Youm7 quoted the head of Hotels Monitoring department at the Ministry of Tourism, Abdel Fatah el-Assy, as saying that the impact of the recent evacuations and the cancelling of hotel reservations will be officially estimated by the next week.

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