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62 dead as airliner crashes and bursts into flames in poor weather

The accident happened early this morning.

Russia Plane Crash Relatives of the plane crash victims comfort each other at the Rostov-on-Don airport, about 950 kilometres (600 miles) south of Moscow, Russia, this morning Source: AP/Press Association Images

Updated: 3.55pm

EVERYONE ON BOARD a Flydubai Boeing 737 were killed when the plane crashed and burst into flames as it was landing in Rostov-on-Don in southern Russia this morning.

The plane was making its second attempt to land in bad weather when it missed the runway, erupting in a huge fireball as it crashed and leaving debris scattered across a wide area.

russia A Russian air company employee puts a flower next to toys and candles in memory of victims. Source: AP/Press Association Images

“Flydubai regrets to confirm that flight FZ981 crashed on landing and that fatalities have been confirmed as a result of this tragic accident,” the airline said on its Facebook page.

rostov Rostov-on-Don, southern Russia Source: Google Maps

Russian investigators confirmed that all 62 people on board, 55 passengers and seven crew, were killed.

The passengers were all Russian nationals, including four children, local news channel LifeNews reported, describing the crew as unspecified “foreigners”.

Posted by on Saturday, 19 March 2016

Flydubai chairman Ghaith al-Ghaith expressed “devastation” over the disaster and sought to head off any “speculation” that the crash was the result of terrorism.

We do not yet know all the details of the incident but we are working closely with the authorities to establish precisely what happened.

Footage shown on local media showed a huge fireball engulfing a wide area after the plane went down. 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, the ministry added.

wreckage The wreckage Source: AP/Press Association Images

wrek2 The wreckage Source: AP/Press Association Images

“The plane skimmed the ground and broke into several pieces,” the investigators said, and LifeNews reported that fragments of the Boeing 737 were scattered up to 1.5 kilometres (one mile) from the crash site.

A strong wind warning was in place and it was raining hard at the time of the crash, and according to LifeNews, the plane had been circling the area trying to land for two hours because of the poor weather.

candles A woman puts a toy next to flowers and candles in memory of victims. Source: AP/Press Association Images

Other flights had been diverted to Krasnodar airport, 300 kilometres south of Rostov-on-Don.

“The weather conditions were terrible, the plane was shaking terribly,” a passenger on one of the diverted flights told LifeNews.

‘Possible pilot error’

A criminal investigation into the accident has been launched to determine whether any safety regulations were violated and if negligence played any part in the crash.

“A possible pilot error” was among the possible causes of the crash being examined, Jeanna Terekhova, an advisor to the Russian transport ministry, told news channel Russia 24.

The accident happened at 12.50am Irish time, according to the statement. The plane had left Dubai at 6.20pm Irish time, Flydubai confirmed.

“We are putting our emergency response in place and we will be working closely with all the authorities involved. We will share as much information as possible just as soon as we can and we will provide updated information on a regular basis,” Emirates-based Flydubai said in a statement on its website, which had been changed to a sombre black and grey colour scheme.

Boeing said they were aware of the incident.

“We’re aware of reports coming out of Russia and our team is currently gathering more details,” the plane manufacturer said on Twitter.

Russia Plane Crash A Russian Emergency Situations Ministry employee (r), escorts a group of relatives of the plane crash victims at Rostov-on-Don airport this morning Source: AP/Press Association Images

Government-owned Flydubai, a no-frills sister firm 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.

Russia Plane Crash A Russian Emergency Situations Ministry employee (l) tries to comfort a relative of the plane crash victims Source: AP/Press Association Images

The last major aviation disaster involving Russia was in October last year, when a passenger jet on its way from Egypt’s Sharm el-Sheikh resort to Saint Petersburg was brought down by a bomb in the Sinai Peninsula.

All 224 people on board, the vast majority of them Russian, were killed.

The Egyptian branch of the Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack.

© – AFP, 2016

Read: ‘Sometimes we couldn’t train because of the war. Sometimes there were bombs in the pool’

Read: ‘We got him’ – Paris attacker Salah Abdeslam shot and captured

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