UK military sent to Sharm el-Sheikh amid security fears

Phillip Hammond stresses that the UK will do all it can to rescue stranded British nationals in Egypt
Phillip Hammond stresses that the UK will do all it can to rescue stranded British nationals in Egypt
  • British Army and RAF personnel sent out to Sharm el-Sheikh amid airport security fears
  • Some 20,000 British citizens remain stranded after planes to the UK were grounded
  • It comes as the PM is set to met with Egyptian president Abdul Fattah al-Sisi
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ARMED forces personnel from the RAF and Army have been flown out to Sharm el-Sheikh to advise on logistics and security, the Ministry of Defence confirmed this morning.

A small contingent is already at Red Sea resort in Egypt offering an assessment of the airport’s security.

Speaking to The News, the defence source did not say whether or not the team would be helping with any plans to evacuate some 20,000 British nationals stranded in the country.

However, she but did confirm the team would be on hand offering ‘assistance to cross government colleagues’ in Egypt.

The news comes after Foreign Secretary Phillip Hammond warned disruption to flights ‘could last weeks’.

Speaking to Sky News he said: ‘We’re working with the airlines and the Egyptian authorities now to put in place emergency short-term measures that will allow us to safely bring back the British tourists who are there in Sharm.’

All flights between the UK and Sharm el-Sheikh have been suspended.

It comes amid fears that the Russian passenger plane which crashed over the Sinai peninsula may have been brought down by an explosive device, UK and US officials have claimed.

Mr Hammond added there is a ‘significant possibility’ the plane was brought down by an explosion on board.

The British government estimates that up to 20,000 UK citizens are trapped in the Egyptian resort.

Mr Hammond said the UK would do everything in its power to rescue the British tourists.

Mr Hammond stressed that everything possible was being done to bring stranded tourists home.

‘We are putting in place during the course of today with the airlines and the Egyptians emergency short term measures that will reinforce security and enable those planes to take off,’ he told BC Radio 4’s Today programme.

‘It is possible to put in additional levels of baggage screening and searching that would not be sustainable on a long term basis but can be put in as a short term measure ... surging additional personnel to do things which you can do over a short term period to get 20,000 people back to the UK.”

He went on: ‘In parallel we will be working with the Egyptian authorities and the airlines to look at long term sustainable measures that can be put in place to allow the resumption of normal air activity between the UK and Sharm.

‘That is what we want to achieve and we want to achieve it as quickly as possible.’

It comes at PM David Cameron is due to meet with the Egyptian president

Mr Cameron took the decision to ground the flights amid security fears.

He is due to make a statement in Downing Street today after chairing a meeting of the government’s emergency Cobra committee.