British aircraft dodged ‘rocket attack’ over Sharm el-Sheikh in August
A British aircraft carrying 189 passengers had to dodge a rocket as it approached the Egyptian city of Sharm el-Sheikh in August, media reports say.
The Thomson Airways flight from London Stansted Airport was heading toward the Egyptian city on August 23 when the pilot spotted a rocket speeding through the air in a 1,000-foot (304-meter) distance, British media outlets reported on Friday.
“The first officer was in charge at the time but the pilot was in the cockpit and saw the rocket coming towards the plane,” The Daily Mail quoted an unnamed source as saying, adding that the pilot then “ordered that the flight turn to the left to avoid the rocket, which was about 1,000 feet away”.
The plane finally landed safely and the passengers were not told about the brush with certain death.
Although the British government was cognizant of the security threat, it suspended flights to and from Sharm el-Sheikh more than two months later on November 4, only after a Russian plane crashed in Egypt.
The Airbus 321, flying from Sharm el-Sheikh to the Russian city of Saint Petersburg on October 31, came down in Egypt’s restive Sinai Peninsula 23 minutes after takeoff, leaving all 224 people on board dead.
Recent media reports citing sources close to the investigation of the crash say that a bomb planted on board may have caused the disaster.
Referring to the August incident, a UK government spokesman said, “We investigated the reported incident at the time and concluded that it was not a targeted attack and was likely to be connected to routine exercises being conducted by the Egyptian military in the area at the time.”
According to the UK Department for Transport, a full probe was conducted into the incident, and after reviewing the details of the case, the investigators concluded that there was no cause for concern and it was safe to continue flights to Sharm el-Sheikh.