A Russian aircraft bound for St. Petersburg crashed in a mountainous region of Egypt on Saturday, killing all 224 on board.
Kogalymavia Flight 7K9268 disappeared from radar 23 minutes after taking off at 5:51 a.m. local time from Sharm El-Sheikh International Airport in El Salam, Egypt, before crashing near al-Hassana, a mountainous area in the Sinai Peninsula, said Egypt's Civil Aviation Authority. An Egyptian official had previously told local media that the plane briefly lost contact but was safely in Turkish airspace.
The Russian embassy in Cairo said the 217 passengers and seven crew members were killed. Egyptian authorities said the passengers were 214 Russian and three Ukrainians citizens.
Relatives of the passengers gathered at Pulkovo Airport in St. Petersburg as they frantically awaited news on the flight.
"I checked the radar, everything seemed to be fine," one relative told the Associated Press. "I came here, and when I came, I couldn't find the flight anywhere on the screen."
According to state news agency MENA, Sinai State Prosecutor Emad Eddin Mansour said authorities located the plane’s black box among the debris. Authorities later received the bodies of victims and prepared for DNA analysis to identify them.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is sending Russian emergency officials to the crash site. The Kremlin has declared Sunday as a day of mourning for the victims.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is also returning to Egypt following a visit to Bahrain. He expressed his condolences to Russia in a statement.
While on a visit to Kyrgyzstan, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry expressed his condolences to the families of the victims.
“We don't know any details about it but obviously the initial reports represent tremendous tragedy, loss, and we extend our condolences to the families and all those concerned," he said.
Other travelers were shaken by the tragedy as well.
"I found out about the crash just 30 minutes before leaving my flat," one Russian at Pulkovo Airport, Lubov Kekles, told the Associated Press. "I'm really scared and worried. I don't even know what to say. It is scary, so scary that I am even afraid of entering the airport. Honestly, I don't know what I will see there. The sadness of people? It is really terrifying."
Following the crash, two carriers -- Lufthansa and Air France -- announced they were avoiding the airspace over the Sinai Peninsula.
Maggie Ghobrial in Cairo, Tanya Stukalova in Moscow, Mustafa Hameed in New York, and The Associated Press contributed to this report.