At least 14 people were killed and 17 injured Saturday when a coach and a minibus smashed into each other at high speed in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, security officials said.
The minibus and the coach, which had come from the capital Cairo and was heading for the Red Sea tourist resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, collided while speeding in poor visibility due to fog around dawn, officials added.
The crash took place close to El-Tor in southern Sinai, some 300 kilometres (185 miles) southeast of Cairo.
President Muhammadu Buhari says the priority of his administration is to ensure food security in Nigeria before export of food products.
The President made the statement on Saturday while contributing to a Presidential Panel Roundtable on Investment and Growth Opportunities at the opening session of the ‘Africa 2016: Business for Africa, Egypt and the World’ at Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt.
With Nigeria being a mono-economy, dependent on oil, and with a teeming unemployed youth population, he stressed that the way out of the current slump in the global oil market was for the administration to focus on agriculture and solid minerals development.
“The land is there and we need machinery inputs, fertilizer and insecticides,” he said.
Productive and Self-sufficient
On his opposition to the devaluation of the Naira, President Buhari noted that Nigeria could not compete with developed countries which produce to compete among themselves and could afford to devalue their local currencies.
“Developed countries are competing among themselves and when they devalue, they compete better and manufacture and export more.
“But we are not competing and exporting, but importing everything including toothpicks. So, why should we devalue our currency?” the President asked.
According to him, “we want to be more productive and self-sufficient in food and other basic things such as clothing. For our government, we like to encourage local production and efficiency”.
The President stated that those who had developed taste for foreign luxury goods should continue to pay for them rather than pressuring government to devalue the Naira.
He expressed optimism that Nigeria would get out of its current economic downturn, pointing out that another major problem militating against economic revival was the huge resources deployed towards tackling insurgency and international terrorism.
President Buhari commended the support being received from the international community in his administration’s fight against terror, as well as cooperation in tracing looted funds stashed away in foreign countries.
Responding to a question on his performance since he assumed office, he said that his administration had been quite focused on three fundamental issues of securing the country, reviving the economy and stamping out corruption.
“The message on corruption has been driven home vividly and Nigerians are very acceptable to the message,” he said.
President Buhari added that those accused of stealing public funds were cooperating by voluntarily providing useful information while investigations and prosecutions were going on.
In his address, the Egyptian President, Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, said that Africa needed to concentrate on transforming into knowledge societies using innovation and research.
The Presidents of Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Sudan and the Prime Minister of Ethiopia also participated at the Roundtable.
In his message, the President of the African Development Bank, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, stressed that “Africa must think big, act big and develop big.”
Before departing Egypt, President Buhari and his Egyptian host, had a bilateral discussion on security, military cooperation, agriculture and solid minerals development.
President Muhammadu Buhari will depart Nigeria on Friday for Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, to take part in the Business for Africa, Egypt and the World Forum.
A statement on Thursday by a spokesman for the President, Mr Femi Adesina, said the forum would open in the Egyptian resort town on Saturday, February 18.
It is being organised by the Egyptian government under the auspices of the African Union Commission.
The forum’s objective is to accelerate private sector engagement and investment within Africa and promote the development of African ties and partnerships.
President Buhari, President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi of Egypt and the Presidents of Togo, Sudan, Kenya, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, as well as the Prime Minister of Ethiopia are among confirmed speakers at the forum.
Other confirmed speakers include the President of the African Development Bank, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina and the President/CEO of Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote.
President Buhari would be accompanied on the trip by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama, alongside the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Okechukwu Enelama.
The President is expected to return to Abuja, Nigeria’s capital at the conclusion of the forum.
Russia has announced that it will be flying more tourists home on Sunday, after 11,000 were airlifted home from Egypt in the past 24 hours.
After initially dismissing suspicions that a bomb brought down a Russian plane in Sinai, the government said on Friday that it was suspending all flights to Egypt.
Dozens of special flights were permitted for tourists wanting to go home.
A remembrance service has been held in St Petersburg for the 224 victims of the crash, most of whom are Russian.
The United Kingdom (UK) has flown 3,500 travellers out of Sharm El-Sheikh, from where Metrojet Flight 9268 took off for St Petersburg on October 31.
On Friday, European investigators, who analysed the two flight recorders from the Russian Metrojet plane that went down on October 31 in Egypt, categorically said that the crash was not an accident.
The investigators said the cockpit voice recorder showed an explosion and the flight data recorder confirmed that the explosion was not accidental — there is no sign of mechanical malfunction during the initial part of the flight, the CNN said, citing affiliate France 2 report.
Everything is fine during the first 24 minutes, then in a fraction of a second there is a blackout and no more cockpit conversation, convincing investigators there was a bomb on board, the investigators stated.
Officials from United States (US) and United Kingdom (UK) say intelligence reports suggest that the Russian plane that crashed in Egypt, killing all 224 people on board, may have been brought down by a bomb.
They, however, said that they were yet to reach a formal conclusion.
Britain earlier suspended flights to and from the resort of Sharm El-Sheikh, from where the flight had departed.
Egypt had dismissed claims by militants linked to Islamic State (IS) that they brought down the plane, as Russian experts said that it was too early to say.
Meanwhile, Egyptian officials say the cockpit voice recorder of the Metrojet Airbus 321 was badly damaged in the crash.
However, they managed to extract information from the flight data recorder which is ready to be analysed by investigators.
The Russian plane crash in Egypt last weekend has been linked to likely explosion, but it is unclear whether a bomb or technical problems were to blame.
The Airbus A321M crashed on Saturday in the Sinai Peninsula shortly after taking off from the resort of Sharm el-Sheikh on its way to the Russian city of St Petersburg, killing all 224 persons on board.
Britain, which hosts Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi this week, said an explosive device may well have caused the crash, while CNN quoted a U.S. official as saying a bomb could have been planted on board by militants of Islamic State or one of its affiliates.
“It is believed to be an explosion but what kind is not clear. There is an examination of the sand at the crash site to try and determine if it was a bomb,” an Egyptian source, who is close to the team investigating the black boxes, told Reuters.
“There are forensic investigations underway at the crash site. That will help determine the cause, to see if traces of explosives are found.”
Islamic State, which controls swathes of Iraq and Syria and is battling the Egyptian army in the Sinai Peninsula, said again on Wednesday it brought down the airplane.
The group said it would eventually tell the world how it carried out the attack.
Egypt, a close ally of the United States and the most populous Arab country, dismissed a similar statement by the ultra-hardline group on Saturday.
Sisi has described Islamist militancy as an existential threat to the Arab world and the West and has repeatedly called for greater international efforts to combat the militants.
The office of British Prime Minister David Cameron, who was due to hold talks in London with Sisi on Thursday, said in a statement: “As more information has come to light we have become concerned that the plane may well have been brought down by an explosive device.”
Striking a similar note, the U.S. official quoted by CNN said: “There is a definite feeling it was an explosive device planted in luggage or somewhere on the plane.”
The bodies of over 140 people who died in Saturday’s air crash in Egypt have been flown back to Russia.
All 224 people on the plane – most of them Russians – died when it came down over the northern Sinai Peninsula. So far 163 bodies have been found.
According to Russia’s emergency ministry, which organised the flight, identification will begin later on Monday at a crematorium in Saint Petersburg where remains of the victims were to be taken in a motorcade.
Family members have been providing DNA samples at a crisis centre set up close to the airport, now the site of an impromptu memorial where people are bringing flowers and cuddly toys to commemorate the victims, many of them children as young as 10 months old.
On Sunday, Russia observed a day of mourning after experiencing its worst air disaster.
As investigations continue into the cause of the crash, Russian air transport agency head, Aleksandr Neradko, says the airliner disintegrated at high altitude.
The Kogalymavia airbus A321 came down early on Saturday, shortly after leaving the resort of Sharm el-Sheikh for the Russian city of St Petersburg.
Jihadists allied to the Islamic State (Is) in Sinai, claimed responsibility for the crash but Egypt’s Prime Minister dismissed claims by the Islamic State (ISIS), that it is responsible for the crash, saying a technical fault was most likely the cause.
Egypt’s Prime Minister has dismissed claims by the Islamic State (ISIS), that it is responsible for the crash of a Russian passenger plane in Sinai, saying a technical fault was most likely the cause.
An investigation has commenced into the cause of the crash in which all 224 people on board were killed.
Despite the Egyptian authority’s assurances, three airlines; Emirates, Air France and Lufthansa have decided not to fly over the Sinai Peninsula until more information is available.
Meanwhile, Russia is observing a day of mourning, following its worst aviation disaster.
Officials, however, said that the plane’s black boxes had been found and sent for analysis.
Egypt’s Civil Aviation Minister, Hossam Kamal, said that there had been no sign of any problems on board the flight, contradicting earlier reports that the pilot had asked to make an emergency landing.
An Egyptian official had previously said that before the plane lost contact with air traffic controllers, the pilot had said the aircraft was experiencing technical problems and he intended to try to land at the nearest airport.
Egypt’s Civilian Aviation Ministry said the plane had been at an altitude of 9,450m (31,000ft) when it disappeared.
Security experts, nonetheless, said that a plane flying at that altitude would be beyond the range of a shoulder-launched surface-to-air missile (Manpad), which Sinai militants are known to possess.
However, German carrier, Lufthansa, said that it would avoid flying over the Sinai Peninsula “as long as the cause for Saturday’s crash has not been clarified”.
On Saturday evening, Air France-KLM and Emirates said they were following suit.
British Airways and EasyJet said their routes were regularly reviewed, but that they had no plans to alter their routes to and from Sharm el-Sheikh.
The plane was carrying 217 passengers, including 25 children, Russian transport authorities said. There were seven crew members on board.
Egyptian officials had said 213 of the passengers were Russian and four were Ukrainian, but Russian officials said at least one of the victims was from Belarus.
The bodies of 163 victims have so far been recovered and taken to Cairo.
The Kogalymavia airbus-321 crashed early on Saturday shortly after leaving the resort of Sharm el-Sheikh for the Russian city of St. Petersburg.
A Russian airliner crashed into a mountainous area of Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula on Saturday shortly after losing radar contact near cruising altitude, killing all 224 passengers aboard.
After the crash was reported, a militant group affiliated to Islamic State in Egypt, Sinai Province, said in a statement it had brought down the plane “in response to Russian airstrikes that killed hundreds of Muslims on Syrian land”, but Russia’s Transport Minister told Interfax news agency the claim “can’t be considered accurate”.
“A Tragic Scene”
Reuters reports that the Airbus A321, operated by Russian airline Kogalymavia under the brand name Metrojet, was flying from the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh to St Petersburg in Russia when it went down in central Sinai soon after daybreak, the aviation ministry said.
“I now see a tragic scene,” an Egyptian security officer at the site told Reuters by telephone. “A lot of dead on the ground and many who died whilst strapped to their seats.
“The plane split into two, a small part on the tail end that burned and a larger part that crashed into a rockface. We have extracted at least 100 bodies and the rest are still inside,” the officer, who requested anonymity told Reuters.
The Civil Aviation Minister, Mohamed Hossam Kemal, told a news conference that both black boxes of the plane had been found.
Kemal said communications between the plane and air traffic control before the crash had been normal and that nothing irregular had occurred before the accident.
Egyptian Prime Minister, Sherif Ismail, also told the news conference that there did not appear to be any unusual activity behind the crash but the facts would not be clear until further investigations had been carried out.
Ismail said 129 bodies had so far been removed and the chances of finding survivors were now near-impossible.
Bodies were being transported to various hospitals with 34 arriving in the Zeinhom morgue in Cairo early in the evening.
Sinai is the scene of an insurgency by militants close to Islamic State, who have killed hundreds of Egyptian soldiers and police and have also attacked Western targets in recent months. Much of the Sinai is a restricted military zone.
The Egyptian government has announced plans to build a new capital to the east of the present Cairo.
Housing Minister, Mostafa Madbouly, said the project would cost $45 billion (£30bn) and take five to seven years to complete.
The Minister said the aim was to ease congestion and overpopulation in Cairo, over the next 40 years. The announcement was made at an investment conference that aims to revive the Egyptian economy.
The gathering, in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, attracted pledges worth $12 billion (£8bn) in aid and investment from Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Mr Madbouly said the population of greater Cairo, estimated at about 18 million, was expected to double within 40 years.
The Egyptian parliament, its government departments and ministries, as well as foreign embassies, would move to the new metropolis, Madbouly said.
“We are talking about a world capital,” he added.
Developers say the new city, of which the name has not been revealed, would include almost 2,000 schools and colleges and more than 600 healthcare facilities. The project would create more than a million jobs.
It is planned to be built over 700 sq km (270 sq miles) and house about five million residents.