Flydubai Boeing crash in Rostov-on-Don kills all 62 on board
By Ofonime Essien
Flydubai flight FZ981 has crashed in the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don killing all 62 passengers and crew on board. The flight was en route from Dubai and crashed during its second landing approach amid poor weather conditions.
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.
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A video presented by LifeNews reveals the Boeing-737-800 disintegrated on impact. Tiny pieces of the aircraft are scattered over a large part of the runway of Rostov-on-Don’s airport.
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.
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.
“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.
A flight data recorder has been recovered, RIA Novosti reports.
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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.
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.
Flight FZ981 from Dubai arrived in Rostov-on-Don at about 1:30am, but due to harsh weather conditions, strong side winds gusting at 25-30 meters per second, it spent the next two hours in the air, picking its moment to land.
As FZ981 was cruising near Rostov-on-Don (ROV), several other flights opted for alternative airports, but the captain of FZ981 decided to wait for a chance to land at ROV.
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A record of what appears to be conversation of the pilot of the crashed Boeing-737-800 with the control tower in Rostov-on-Don has been published on the web.
The FlyDubai company has issued an official statement about flight FZ981.
“FlyDubai is deeply sorry to confirm the following information in relation to the tragic accident involving flight FZ981 which was flying from Dubai International (DXB) to Rostov on Don (ROV).”
“Preliminary numbers indicate 55 passengers and seven crew on the Next-Generation Boeing 737-800 aircraft.”
Emergency crews are working at the scene of the crash and have already put out the fire, according to a TASS source.
Vladimir Markin, spokesman for the Investigative Committee (IC), said experts and experienced investigators are at the crash site, collecting evidence.
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“Site inspection is actively underway. IC investigators are collecting the remains of the passengers for subsequent forensic, genetic examination,” Markin said in a statement published on the Russian Investigative Committee’s official website.
The airport is to remain closed until at least March 20, 7:00am Moscow time. The inbound flights are getting rerouted to Krasnodar.
The Emergencies Ministry has opened up a hotline while a team of psychologists has been sent to help the grieving relatives.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has expressed has expressed condolences to the relatives and loved ones of the crashed Boeing.
“The Russian president feels deeply for all those who lost their loved ones in the Boeing 737 crash in Rostov-on-Don,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov announced on Saturday, stressing that the president has made it a priority to provide all possible assistance to the relatives of the victims.
Russia’s Investigative Committee has launched a probe into the incident with preliminary data indicating that the plane disintegrated and caught fire upon touching the ground.
The head of the Emergency Ministry Vladimir Puchkov has held a special meeting, with all the ministry’s efforts, and resources of the local response teams and authorities, directed to the crash site.
There are over 700 response team specialists and about 100 special vehicles operating at the Rostov-on-Don Airport right now.
Relatives of the victims are gathering at the airport, Vasily Golubev, governor of Rostov region, told media. He stressed that everyone will get sympathetic and personal attention.
Golubev said most of the Russian passengers were tourists.
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