Flydubai flight crashes in Russia, killing 62

There was no immediate information on the cause, although some news reports suggested weather could have been a factor

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A Flydubai passenger plane from Dubai crashed on Saturday while trying to land at the airport in the southern city of Rostov-on-Don. The crash is believed to have killed all 62 passengers and crew on board.

The Investigative Committee of Russia said it is looking into a pilot error or a technical failure as the most likely causes for the plane crash that killed 62 in southern Russia, Russian news agencies reported.

"At present, we are looking into two main theories for the plane crash in Rostov-on-Don: pilot error in connection with deteriorating weather conditions or a technical error," Interfax news agency cited a representative of the Committee, Oksana Kovrizhnaya, as saying.

The Flydubai airline – a low-budget Dubai-based airline - initially said on its Facebook page: ""We are aware of an incident involving our flight FZ981 from Dubai to Rostov On Don. We are investigating." It then posted several updates confirming the crash and provided more information on the passengers.

Update 2:flydubai regrets to confirm that flight FZ981 crashed on landing and that fatalities have been confirmed as a...

Posted by flydubai on Friday, March 18, 2016

Update 3:flydubai is deeply sorry to confirm the following information in relation to the tragic accident involving...

Posted by flydubai on Friday, March 18, 2016

Flydubai later confirmed that the black box of the crashed aircraft had been located.

Vasily Golubev, the governor of the Rostov region some 950 kilometers south of Moscow, was quoted by Russian news agencies as telling local journalists that the plane crashed about 250 meters short of the runway. News reports said the plane caught fire after the crash.

The cause of the crash was not immediately determined, but Golubev said: "By all appearances, the cause of the air crash was the strongly gusting wind, approaching a hurricane level."

Russia's Emergencies Ministry said the crash occurred Saturday morning and identified the plane as a Boeing 737-800 that was coming from Dubai. The ministry later said that survivors were unlikely and that there were 55 passengers aboard and seven crew, based on preliminary information.

“At the moment, we are still receiving more information,” a Flydubai spokesperson told Al Arabiya English on Saturday morning.

“Fatalities have been confirmed. We are doing all we can do gather information as quickly as possible. At this moment our thoughts are with families of the passengers and crew who were onboard the aircraft.”

“We will do everything to support those who have been affected. We have put our emergency response in place and we are working closely with the authorities involved. We will share as much information as possible just as soon as we can and provide updates on a regular basis.”

The spokesperson said he had “no information” regarding a CCTV video circulating online and would not verify its authenticity. The video published to YouTube appeared to show a fireball as the aircraft crashed into the ground.

In response to the crash flydubai CEO 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. We are making every effort to care for those affected and will provide assistance to the loved ones of those on board.”

Statement by flydubai CEO Ghaith Al Ghaith regarding FZ981

Statement by flydubai CEO Ghaith Al Ghaith regarding FZ981 from Dubai to Rostov-on-Don 19 March 2016

Posted by flydubai on Friday, March 18, 2016

State news agency Tass reported that the Investigative Committee, the country's top investigative agency, said preliminary information indicates the plane was landing when it hit the ground and broke into pieces at the airport about 950 kilometers south of Moscow.

The aircraft had to abandon an initial attempt to land and came down while making a repeat attempt, according to a ministry statement.

Most of the passengers on board were Russian, the regional governor said on television.

"Three foreigners were on the passenger list of the plane, but that information needs checking," an emergency ministry official said on Rossiya-24 news channel.

FlyDubai's fleet is dominated by relatively young 737-800 aircraft, the same model as the one that crashed. The airline says it operates more than 1,400 flights a week.

The airline has expanded rapidly in Russia and other parts of the former Soviet Union. Dubai is a popular tourist destination for Russian visitors.

It has been flying to the southern city of Rostov-on-Don since 2013. FlyDubai has a good safety record. In January 2015, one of its planes was struck on the fuselage by what appeared to small-arms fire shortly before it landed in Baghdad. That flight landed safely with no major injuries reported.

(With AP and Reuters)