Flydubai Flight 981 crashes on landing at Rostov-on-Don, Russia

Relatives of the crash victims mourn at the airport in Rostov-on-Don. All 62 people on board Flydubai flight TZ981 were killed when the plane crash-landed and burst into flames.
Sergei Venyavsky | AFP | Getty Images
Relatives of the crash victims mourn at the airport in Rostov-on-Don. All 62 people on board Flydubai flight TZ981 were killed when the plane crash-landed and burst into flames.

A passenger jet run by Flydubai under the code FZ981 has crash-landed at Rostov-on-Don airport in southern Russia, killing all 55 passengers and seven crew members on board.

The Investigative Committee of Russia said in a statement on its website that all 62 people on board the plane died when it "hit the ground and broke into pieces." The reason for the crash was as yet unclear.

The Boeing 737-800 was en route from Dubai to Rostov-on-Don, a port city close to the border with Ukraine, when it missed the runway amid heavy rain, English-language state news agency Sputnik reported, citing Russian-language state agency RIA Novosti.

According to various reports, the plane was making its second or third attempt to land in high winds when the tip of a wing hit the ground about 250 meters short of the runway, causing it to catch fire.

In a statement on Saturday, Boeing said that it would create a team that would serve as "technical advisor" to Russia's Interstate Aviation Committee (IAC), and would operate under the auspices of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board.

"In accordance with the international protocol governing aviation accident investigations, all inquiries about the investigation must be directed to the IAC," Boeing's statement read.


Russian news site RT.com published a grainy security-camera video that it said showed the crash. The black-and-while footage from a camera apparently pointing toward the runway from across a street showed a bright light speeding toward the ground, then a large explosion, followed by flames.

Interfax reported that one of the flight recorders had since been recovered from the crash site. The news agency cited sources with knowledge of radio exchanges with the plane as saying there had been no emergency reported from on board prior to the crash.

The Investigative Committee said on its website that its experts were looking into possible causes of the crash, including crew error, technical problems and bad weather.

A committee representative, Oksana Kovrizhnaya, told Russia's Interfax news agency that "we are looking into two main theories for the plane crash...pilot error in connection with deteriorating weather conditions or a technical error," according to a Reuters report.

The plane's pilot was from Cyprus, Interfax reported, adding that crew members were from Russia, Spain, Greece, Colombia, Kyrgyzstan and the Seychelles.

Flydubai is a low-cost airline owned by the Dubai Government.

The carrier said in a statement that the passenger group was made up of 44 Russians, eight Ukrainians, two Indians and one Uzbekistani; 33 women, 18 men and four children.

Its emergency response team was heading to Rostov-on-Don, with chief executive Ghaith Al Ghaith leading the response to the accident, it said.

"Everyone at flydubai is in deep shock and our hearts go out to the families and friends of those involved," the CEO said in the statement. "We don't yet know all the details of the accident but we are working closely with the authorities to establish the cause."

In January 2015 Flydubai hit the headlines after one of its planes came under first while landing at Baghdad airport. There were no fatalities.

Reuters reported that President Vladimir Putin said that assisting the relatives of the victims was the country's top priority.

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