FlyDubai Flight FZ981crashes in Russia, killing all on board – Charles D’Alberto

Charles D'Alberto

Everyone on board Boeing 737-800 en route from Dubai died when it crashed and exploded into flames on landing.

A Boeing 737-800 passenger jet operated by the low-cost airline, FlyDubai, has crashed on landing in the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don, in the south of the country.

Everyone on board was killed when the plane crashed and burst into flames early on Saturday morning, a local official said.

There is some confusion over the number of fatalities. A local official quoted by the official TASS news agency said: “A Boeing 737 crashed as it was coming into land. There were 61 people on board. They are all dead.”.

The accident happened at 0050 GMT, according to an official statement from the emergencies ministry.

“The Boeing 737 on the Dubai to Rostov-on-Don route caught fire (after crashing),” said the statement, adding that the fire was brought under control by 0200 GMT.

Emirates-based FlyDubai confirmed that flight FZ981 had crashed on landing. It said the plane had taken off from Dubai international airport at 18:20GMT, bound for Rostov-on-Don. It was due to land at 22:40GMT.

The airline said it was in the process of verifying the passenger list but provisional information indicated there were 33 women, 18 men, four children and seven crew on board.

The airline has confirmed the nationalities as 44 Russian, 8 Ukrainian, two Indian, on one person from Uzbekistan.

“While we are still awaiting final confirmation, it is with great sadness that we report we believe there are no survivors,” it said on the airline’s Facebook page.

Speaking about the incident, FlyDubai chief executive, Ghaith Al Ghaith, said: “Our primary concern is for the families of the passengers and crew who were on board.

“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,” he said.

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State news agency Tass reported that the government’s leading investigative committee said preliminary information indicated the plane was landing when it hit the ground and broke into pieces at the airport about 950km (600 miles) south of Moscow.

Footage shown on local media showed a huge fireball erupting from the crash site. The authorities took more than an hour to get the blaze under control, the emergencies ministry said. More than 500 rescuers and 60 vehicles were dispatched to the crash site.

There was no immediate information on the cause, although some news reports suggested weather could have been a factor. Tass said weather data from the area indicated that winds were anywhere from 14 to 22 metres per second (30-50 mph) at the time of the crash and that there was light rain.

Boeing said it was aware of the incident: “We’re aware of reports coming out ofRussia and our team is currently gathering more details,” the plane manufacturer said on Twitter.

Ian Petchenik, a spokesman for the flight-tracking website Flightradar24, told Associated Press that the plane initially tried to land at Rostov-on-Don then entered a holding pattern and tried to land again before contact was lost.

Government-owned FlyDubai, a no-frills sister airlines to Emirates, was established in March 2008.

The airline had a strong safety record, but one of its planes was hit by a bullet as it landed in Baghdad airport in January 2015, prompting multiple airlines to suspend flights to the Iraqi capital. No one was hurt.

The last major aviation disaster involving Russia was on 31 October when a Russian airliner blew up in the air over Egypt’s Sinai peninsula, killing all 224 aboard. Investigators determined it was destroyed by a bomb onboard. Russian news reports said most of those aboard were Russian tourists but there were unspecified foreign passengers as well.

Posted By Charles D'Alberto