A passenger jet flying from Dubai crashed in southern Russia early today morning, killing all 62 people aboard, Russian officials said.
The Boeing 737-800 operated by FlyDubai crashed during a repeated landing attempt in the city of Rostov-on-Don during “poor weather conditions,” Russia’s Emergency Ministry announced in a statement.
In a second approach in heavy winds, the plane’s wing “hit the runway, began to break up, and burst into flames,” the statement read. There were 55 passengers aboard, and seven crew members, according to us Russian officials.
Russia’s Interfax news wire reported that the plane circled the Rostov airport for 40 to 50 minutes attempting to land in winds reportedly as high as 20 knots. The plane broke up completely on impact, government officials told the newswire.
Vladimir Markin, the spokesman for the Investigative Committee, said experts have found the cockpit conversation recorder and are continuing the search for another one which records parameters of the flight, the Associated Press reported.
Russian officials did not appear to suspect foul play or an act of terror immediately following the crash. The country’s Investigative Committee early Saturday morning opened a criminal investigation into any possible safety violations leading to the fatal crash.
In October, a Russian charter jet carrying 224 people from Egypt to St. Petersburg crashed in the Sinai desert after an Islamic State-linked terrorist group detonated a homemade bomb aboard the plane.
“In all likelihood, the cause of the air crash was heavy winds approaching hurricane-strength,” said Vasily Golubev, the governor of the Rostov region, said in remarks broadcast on television early Saturday. The majority of passengers were from the city of Rostov-on-Don and the surrounding region, he said.
The Dubai Media Office posted a message on Twitter that said the passengers included 44 people from Russia, eight from Ukraine, two from India and one from Uzbekistan.
Russian aviation officials rushed to the site of the crash and President Vladimir Putin ordered government officials to provide aid to the family members of the deceased.
More than 600 relatives of passengers aboard the plane have gathered at the Rostov airport, the Interfax news agency reported, citing a press officer at the airport. Rostov-on-Don is in southwestern Russia near the border with Ukraine.
Golubev said that there were 55 passengers and seven employees of FlyDubai, the low-cost Saudi airline, aboard the plane.
FlyDubai, a budget airline that is the sister carrier to Emirates Airline, was founded in 2008 and now operates more than 1,400 flights a week, according to its website. It has been expanding rapidly into Russia, and flying to Rostov-on-Don since 2013.