FlyDubai Plane Crashes at Russian Airport, Killing 61, Official Says


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Emergency workers at the crash site at Rostov-on-Don, Russia, on Saturday.

Credit
Russia Emergency Ministry, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

MOSCOW — An airliner carrying 61 people from Dubai crashed early Saturday while landing in the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don in strong winds, killing all aboard, Russian officials said.

All 55 passengers and six crew members died, Igor Oder, head of the Emergencies Ministry’s southern regional operations, said in a televised briefing.

The Boeing 737-800 belonged to the budget carrier FlyDubai.

In a statement, the airline confirmed that Flight 981 crashed on landing, and it said there were fatalities.

“We are doing all we can to gather information as quickly as possible,” the statement said. “At this moment our thoughts and prayers are with our passengers and our crew who were on board the aircraft.”

Vasily Golubev, the governor of the Rostov region some 600 miles south of Moscow, was quoted by Russian news agencies as telling local journalists that the plane crashed about 800 feet short of the runway. News reports said the plane caught fire after the crash.

The cause of the crash was not immediately determined, but Mr. Golubev said, “By all appearances, the cause of the air crash was the strongly gusting wind, approaching a hurricane level.”

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Journalists watched the news of the plane crash at the Rostov-on-Don airport in Russia on Saturday.

Credit
Reuters

The state news agency Tass said weather data from the area indicated that winds at the time of the crash were 30 to 50 miles per hour and that there was light rain.

Ian Petchenik, a spokesman for the flight-tracking website Flightradar24, told The Associated Press that the plane missed its approach, then entered a holding pattern and tried to land again before contact was lost.

FlyDubai is a budget airline started in 2008 by the government of Dubai, the gulf commercial hub that is part of the seven-state United Arab Emirates federation. Its first flight took to the skies in 2009.

It shares a chairman with Dubai’s government-backed Emirates, the Middle East’s biggest airline, though the two carriers operate independently and maintain separate operations from their bases at Dubai International Airport, the region’s busiest airport.

FlyDubai’s fleet is dominated by relatively young 737-800 aircraft, the same model as the one that crashed. The airline says it operates more than 1,400 flights a week.

The airline has expanded rapidly in Russia and other parts of the former Soviet Union. Dubai is a popular tourist destination for Russian visitors, who are attracted by its beaches, shopping malls and year-round sunshine. Like other nationalities, many Russian expatriates live and work in Dubai, a city where foreigners outnumber locals more than four to one.

It has been flying to the southern city of Rostov-on-Don since 2013.

FlyDubai has a good safety record. In January 2015, one of its planes was struck on the fuselage by what appeared to be small-arms fire shortly before it landed in Baghdad. That flight landed safely with no major injuries reported.

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