At least 62 passengers and crew have died after a FlyDubai plane crashed during an attempted landing in the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don, Russian officials said.
A Russian investigative committee confirmed in a statement that all the people on board the plane, travelling from Dubai, were killed in the crash on Saturday morning.
“The aircraft hit the ground and broke into pieces,” the committee said on its website. “According to preliminary data, there were 55 passengers aboard and seven crew members. They all died.”
In a statement published on Twitter, the Dubai Media Office said 44 of the passengers were Russian, eight were Ukrainian, two were Indian and one was from Uzbekistan.
The plane was believed to be a Boeing 737 operated by Emirati airline FlyDubai, a budget airline with a new fleet of planes that started flying in mid-2009.
Russia’s state-run RT network tweeted a clip of what appeared to be a large explosion.
In a statement, Ghaith Al Ghaith, chief executive of FlyDubai, said, “We offer our deepest condolences to the families of the passengers and crew.
“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.”
Boeing tweeted that it was gathering more information.
There was no immediate information on the cause, although some news reports suggested weather could have been a factor.
Al Jazeera’s Hoda Abdel-Hamid, reporting from Moscow, said reports indicated that the plane was in the air for about two hours in between making an initial attempt to land, and the second attempt, when the plane crashed.
Vasily Golubev, the governor of the Rostov region some 950km south of Moscow, was quoted by Russian news agencies as telling local journalists the plane crashed about 250m short of the runway.
The plane’s flight path, as tracked by Flight Radar 24, shows that the plane made a number of turns near the Rostov-on-Don airport before the final attempted landing.
It is believed to be the first time a FlyDubai plane has crashed.
In January 2015, a FlyDubai passenger jet was shot at while approaching the Iraq capital Baghdad.
An aviation official and a security official said at the time that two passengers were lightly injured when three or four bullets hit the body of the plane, but they were unable to specify the source of the gunfire.
FlyDubai, Emirates, Sharjah’s Air Arabia and Abu Dhabi’s Etihad were the first to suspend flights after the incident, in line with a directive from the United Arab Emirates’ civil aviation authority.[Source: Al-Jazeera]