All 62 passengers and crew that were aboard have died after a FlyDubai plane crashed during an attempted landing in the Southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don.
The flydubai Boeing jet crashed at the Rostov-on-Don airport after traveling from Dubai.
Air-traffic control and local emergency services confirmed that the Boeing 737-800 jet crashed near the runway during a second approach in conditions of poor visibility.
“According to preliminary data, the Boeing 738 crashed in poor visibility conditions, some 50-100 meters left of the runway,” the source said.
A video recorded at the crash site reveals the Boeing-737-800 disintegrated on impact. Tiny pieces of the aircraft are scattered over a large part of the runway at Rostov-on-Don’s airport.
An eyewitness, Arina Kozlova, who was driving near Rostov-on-Don Airport at the time of the crash, said the blaze from the explosion was so bright it was like having dawn in the middle of the night.
CCTV camera footage posted on YouTube claims to have captured the moment of the explosion as the aircraft impacted the ground. However, its authenticity could not be immediately verified.
— RT (@RT_com) March 19, 2016
All crew and passengers on board the plane were killed in the crash, according to the regional Emergencies Ministry.
“During the landing approach a Boeing-737 crashed. It had 55 passengers on board. All of them died,” a regional spokesman told TASS.
There were 55 passengers and seven crew members on board FlyDubai flight FZ981, Victor Yatsutsenko, head of EMERCOM National Crisis Management Centre (NCMC), confirmed during a press statement in Moscow. Seventeen were foreign citizens.
“Eleven of the 55 passengers were citizens of foreign states and their names have already been identified. Six of seven crew members were also citizens of foreign states,” Yatsutsenko said.
Ten of the 23 flights, scheduled to arrive at Rostov-on-Don, were canceled while three others landed in Krasnodar. The remaining 10 due in will also be redirected to Kransodar.
“The plane, according to preliminary data, crashed during the second approach,” the source told Interfax.
Spokesman for the southern bureau of Russia’s Investigative Committee, Oksana Kovrizhnaya, has put forward two versions of the crash: “Pilot error in deteriorating weather conditions or a technical failure,” she said.
Both FZ981 flight data recorders have been recovered from the crash site. Experts are evaluating whether any data can be retrieved from them, said Vladimir Markin, spokesman for the Russia’s Investigative Committee (IC). The cockpit voice recorder was found in the morning and the parametric recorder was recovered later in the day.
According Investigative Committee experts who examined the flight recorders, the black boxes are in a “normal condition,” Oksana Kovrizhnaya said.
She said the data would be extracted as soon as possible.
For the FlyDubai air company, which started operations in 2009, the crash in Rostov-on-Don was the first fatal incident in the company’s history.
Ghaith Al-Ghaith, CEO of FlyDubai, has excluded the possibility of a terror act on ill-fated flight FZ981. No distress signal had been issued by the pilots either, he said.
Al-Ghaith insists the captain, Aristos Socratous, was a highly experienced pilot with over 5,700 flight hours and that the plane was new. Manufactured in 2011, the aircraft passed its latest maintenance on January 21, 2016.
Initial reports suggested that all passengers on board were Russians, however the Emergencies Ministry later confirmed that 11 foreigners were on board the flight, including all the crew members.
FlyDubai says the passengers included 44 Russians, eight Ukrainians, two Indians and one Uzbekistani, altogether 55 people.
LifeNews reports citizens of Cyprus (captain), Colombia, Kirgizia, Russia, Spain (2) and the Seychelles were among the crew members.
The company confirmed that there were 62 people on board.
The Russian Foreign Ministry has offered its condolences to the authorities of all states that lost citizens in flight FZ981, including Colombia, Cyprus, India, Kirgizia, the Seychelles, Spain, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.
Contact has been established with relatives of 47 out of the 55 passengers on FlyDubai flight FZ981, the governor of the Rostov region Vasily Golubev reported.
The relatives of the foreign citizens that died in the crash would be granted Russian visas using a simplified procedure, Transport Minister Maksim Sokolov told media.
Forensic identification of FZ981 passengers might start as early as Saturday, Transport Minister Maksim Sokolov