All the rescue flights which had been due to bring thousands of stranded British tourists home today from Sharm el Sheikh airport have been cancelled, British media are reporting.
More than 20 planes were set to leave the Red Sea resort today to begin evacuating up to 20,000 British people who are trapped after the British Government grounded all flights back to the U.K due to intelligence suggesting the downed Russian airliner likely had a bomb in the hold of the aircraft.
It is unclear why the rescue flights have been cancelled at this stage, the UK Daily Mail reports. However the scenes at Sharm el Sheikh airport are chaotic as children sleep on the floor and adults scramble to try and check in on a flight to get back to safety.
British holidaymakers are now not able to fly home with their luggage and can take only a handful of essential items with them including travel documents, house and car keys, medication, cash and credit cards.
All other luggage – including prams, car seats and wheelchairs – will be returned to Britain separately by ‘secure cover arranged by the UK Government’.
The Australian Government has issued a travel warning to all Australians to “reconsider your need to travel” for Egypt overall and a “do not travel” warning for the Governorate of North Sinai.
The travel warning states “The security situation is extremely dangerous. This may be due to a very high threat of terrorist attack, widespread armed conflict and or dangerous levels of violent crime. If you are already in a destination where we advise you “do not travel” you should consider leaving unless you have compelling reasons to stay.”
Australian travel advice states: “The UK Government has said that there is a ‘significant possibility’ that the crash of a flight between Sharm el Sheikh and St Petersburg on 31 October was caused by an explosive device. It has instructed UK carriers to delay flights leaving Sharm el Sheikh. Investigations are continuing and airlines are currently assessing the aviation security arrangements at Sharm el Sheikh airport. You should contact your airline or travel agent for latest information on disruptions or if you hold concerns about the safety of aircraft servicing Sharm el Sheikh and other airports in Egypt. The level of this advice has not changed. We continue to advise Australians to reconsider their need to travel to Egypt.
For more information please visit smartraveller.gov.au