Moscow (Reuters), Mar 19: All 62 people aboard a passenger jet flying from Dubai to southern Russia were killed when their plane crashed on its second attempt to land at Rostov-on-Don airport on Saturday, Russian officials said.
Russia’s emergencies ministry said the aircraft, a Boeing (BA.N) 737-800 operated by Dubai-based budget carrier Flydubai, crashed at 0340 (0040 GMT). Most of those on board were Russian.
“The aircraft hit the ground and broke into pieces,” the Investigative Committee of Russia said in a statement on its website. “According to preliminary data there were 55 passengers aboard and seven crew members. They all died.”
One of the flight recorders had been recovered, the committee said in a statement.
“Different versions of what happened are being looked into, including crew error, a technical failure and bad weather conditions,” the committee said.
The plane came down inside the airport’s perimeter, about 250 meters (yards) short of the start of the runway.
The plane’s wing hit the ground on its second attempt to land and burst into flames, the Rostov region’s emergency ministry said in a statement.
Grainy pictures from a security camera pointing toward the airport, which were broadcast on Russian television, showed a large explosion at ground level, with flames and sparks leaping high into the air.
The crash occurred more than two hours after the plane, flight number FZ981, was scheduled to land.
Flydubai said in a statement that the company was doing all it could to gather more information as quickly as possible.
“At this moment our thoughts and prayers are with our passengers and our crew who were on board the aircraft,” said the government-owned airline.
The crash is the budget airline’s first since it started flying in May 2009. It last suffered a major safety incident when one of its planes was shot at while landing at Baghdad airport on Jan. 27, 2015.
Six of the crew were non-Russians, the Russian emergency ministry said in a statement on it website, but it did not reveal the citizenship of the crew or passengers aboard.
Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered for assistance to be given to the relatives of those killed.
“The head of state said that now the main thing is to work with the families and the loved ones of those who had died,” the Kremlin said in a statement on its website.