Moscow: Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered the Emergency Ministry to dispatch rescue teams to Egypt, where a Russian passenger plane with 224 onboard crashed on Saturday.
"The head of state has given orders to send Emergency Ministry (teams) to Egypt immediately to work at the plane crash site," a Kremlin statement said.
Putin also ordered the government to launch a special commission "due to the catastrophe of Kogalymavia company plane in Egypt," the statement said.
An Emergency Ministry meeting shown on Russian television announced that teams of rescue workers along with Emergency Minister Vladimir Puchkov will fly out to Egypt at 1300 GMT.
Russia's Transport Minister Maksim Sokolov and the head of Russia's air transport agency Alexander Neradko are also leaving for the site, Russian agencies quoted the ministry's representative as saying.
Russia's Investigative Committee said it had launched a criminal probe into any possible violation of air safety rules, a standard procedure when air crashes involving Russian planes occur. It is also sending investigators to the scene.
Russia's air transport agency Rosaviatsia said that the plane, an Airbus 321, was carrying 217 passengers and seven crew when it disappeared from the radar after taking off for Saint Petersburg from the Red Sea resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh.
It was operated by Kogalymavia, an airline carrying out charter flights for tourism operators, and operating under the brand Metrojet.
The charter flight booked by Moscow-based tourist firm Brisco, a representative of the firm told AFP.
In Egypt, military planes have spotted the wreckage of the plane in the Sinai peninsula and 45 ambulances have been directed there to evacuate the dead and injured, the government said.