South Shields ex-pats fear for their safety in Egypt after plane crash

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A South Tyneside couple who live in Egypt say people are fearing for their safety after the recent Russian plane crash.

The theory that a bomb brought down the Russian jet on Saturday has sparked concern among those due to fly from the popular holiday resort.

The mood out here is very mixed. We are due to fly home in December, we just hope things are settled by then

Sharon Omonde

Flights between Britain and Sharm el-Sheikh were cancelled, but travellers are due to be returned home after a plan was put in place and satisfactory security inspections at the airport serving the resort.

The situation has left many expats concerned their Christmas trips home could be disrupted.

Alistair Omonde, 48, and his wife, Sharon, 51, moved to Sharm el-Sheikh last year and say while they feel Sharm itself to be a safe place, there is now an element of worry.

Friends who had been due to visit in the coming weeks have also been advised against travelling.

Mrs Ormonde, who left Simonside, South Shields, with her husband after he secured a job as a teacher last year, said: “There is quite a weird atmosphere at the moment. The streets are quieter than usual.

“We went out the other night and there were only 10 people in the restaurant. We spoke to one couple who were on holiday from Hartlepool and they said they didn’t know what was happening and no idea how they were getting back home.

“The mood out here is very mixed. A lot of expats are worried and just want to leave. Others who have lived here for a lot of years are happy and feel safe.

“We are due to fly on December 17 back to the UK and we are just hoping everything is settled by then.”

The couple were staying in a hotel celebrating Sharon’s birthday when the news broke about the plane crashing in the Sinai desert.

At first they, like everyone else, thought it was a mechanical failure.

However, later news reports and the British Government suggested it had been brought down by a bomb.

Mrs Ormonde added: “Sharm is a very safe place to holiday and to live, but 
the security at the airport is dire.

“It is quite worrying. My husband phoned me to tell me that expats are being told to pack a grab a bag of essentials if they have to leave their home in a hurry, but no reason why. That is scary in itself.

“It is a lovely place and we have been able to do quite a lot since moving here, including learning how to dive.

“Right now, though, you are waiting for the next thing to happen.

“There is lots of speculation at the moment, which is making things worse. When you go out it is all everyone is talking about.

“Since this has happened, we have had a lot of people contact us to see if we are OK.

“It is worrying, the security at the airport. I have been there and seen people walking through with bottles of water and, when we went to have our visas renewed, the guy checking the bags going through the scanners was paying more attention to his phone.

“At the moment we are still flying on December 17, but we will have to see how things are.

“It may be that we might have to fly sooner.”