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Airlines avoid Sinai airspace in wake of Russian plane crash

Two of Europe's largest airlines have decided to avoid flying over the Sinai peninsula while they wait for clarity on what caused a Russian airliner carrying 224 passengers to crash in the area on Saturday.

Lufthansa says it's because 'the situation and the reasons for the crash were not clear'

Air France and KLM planes will avoid flying over Egypt's Sinai peninsula for now, 'as a precaution.' Lufthansa announced similar measures. (Remy de la Mauviniere/Associated Press)

Two of Europe's largest airlines have decided to avoid flying over the Sinai peninsula while they wait for clarity on what caused a Russian airliner carrying 224 passengers to crash in the area on Saturday.

German carrier Lufthansa and Air France-KLM have decided to avoid the area for safety reasons, spokeswomen for the carriers said on Saturday.

"We took the decision to avoid the area because the situation and the reasons for the crash were not clear," a Lufthansa spokeswoman said. "We will continue to avoid the area until it is clear what caused the crash."

Lufthansa has less than 10 flights a day that cross the area, she said.

Egyptian soldiers and rescue crews transfer the body of a victim of Saturday's plane crash from a police helicopter to an ambulance at a military airport east of Cairo. (EPA)

"Air France confirms it has set up, as a precaution, measures to avoid flights over the zone of Sinai," the spokeswoman for the carrier said. 

In tweets circulated by its supporters, a militant group affiliated with ISIS claimed responsibility on Saturday for downing Metrojet Flight 9268, which was en route from the resort of Sharm el-Sheikh to St. Petersburg. But aviation experts said that was unlikely and Egyptian security officials said initial investigation indicates a technical fault was responsible.

The ISIS-linked group's claims "can't be considered accurate," Russian Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov told the Interfax news agency on Saturday.

Russia's aviation regulatory agency said it's still too early to determine whether the plane crash resulted from technical failure, flight crew error or external action.

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