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FlyDubai plane crash kills 62 in Russian city of Rostov-on-Don

A Boeing 737-800 passenger jet operated by the low-cost airline FlyDubai has crashed while attempting to land in the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don.

All 62 people on board, 55 passengers and seven crew members, were killed when the plane crashed and burst into flames early on Saturday morning, Russian officials said.

The plane, which had flown from Dubai, had been circling the airport for up to two hours after an initial aborted landing attempt, according to Russian news reports. There were high winds in the area at the time.

The plane was coming in for a second attempt to land at 0043 GMT when it plunged to the ground and burst into flames. The crash occurred inside the airport’s perimeter, about 250 metres short of the runway.

Footage shown on local media showed a huge fireball erupting from the crash site. The authorities took more than an hour to get the blaze under control, the emergencies ministry said. More than 500 rescuers and 60 vehicles were dispatched to the crash site.

Investigators said the poor weather conditions and pilot error were possible reasons for the crash. Russian media reported that an Aeroflot flight due to land at a similar time chose to fly to a different airport due to the weather conditions in Rostov.

Rostov’s governor, Vasily Golubev, said: “It looks like the reason was the strong gusts of wind, reaching hurricane levels.”

However, the agency LifeNews reported that a Ural Airlines plane landed at Rostov and then took off again while the FlyDubai plane was circling. It quoted the plane’s pilot as stating that the weather conditions were not easy, but nothing unusual or dangerous.

The Emirates-based FlyDubai confirmed that flight FZ981 had crashed on landing.

The airline said it was in the process of verifying the passenger list but provisional information indicated there were 33 women, 18 men, four children and seven crew on board.

The airline has confirmed the nationalities as 44 Russian, eight Ukrainian, two Indian, and one person from Uzbekistan.

“While we are still awaiting final confirmation, it is with great sadness that we report we believe there are no survivors,” it said on the airline’s Facebook page.

Speaking about the incident, the FlyDubai chief executive, Ghaith al-Ghaith, said: “Our primary concern is for the families of the passengers and crew who were on board.

“Everyone at FlyDubai is in deep shock and our hearts go out to the families and friends of those involved. We don’t yet know all the details of the accident but we are working closely with the authorities to establish the cause,” he said.

Boeing said it was aware of the incident: “We’re aware of reports coming out of Russia and our team is currently gathering more details,” the plane manufacturer said on Twitter.

We are following UNCONFIRMED reports FlyDubai #FZ981 has crashed in Rostov-on-Don.

— Flightradar24 (@flightradar24) March 19, 2016

Russian media reported that both black boxes from the plane had been found at the crash site and would be analysed. All flights to Rostov were cancelled on Saturday.

The government-owned FlyDubai, a no-frills sister airlines to Emirates, was established in March 2008.

The airline had a strong safety record, but one of its planes was hit by a bullet as it landed in Baghdad airport in January 2015, prompting multiple airlines to suspend flights to the Iraqi capital. No one was hurt.

The last major aviation disaster involving Russia was on 31 October, when a Russian airliner blew up in the air over Egypt’s Sinai peninsula, killing all 224 aboard. Investigators determined it was destroyed by a bomb.

( Source )

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