MOSCOW – An airliner with 62 people aboard which flew from Dubai crashed early Saturday while landing in strong winds in the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don, Russian officials said.
All 55 passengers and seven crew members were killed, Igor Oder, head of the Emergency Ministry’s southern regional operations, told Emergencies Minister Vladimir Puchkov in a televised briefing.
The Boeing 737-800 belonged to budget carrier FlyDubai.
In a statement, the budget carrier confirmed that flight FZ981 crashed on landing and said that there are fatalities.
“We are doing all we can to gather information as quickly as possible. At this moment our thoughts and prayers are with our passengers and our crew who were on board the aircraft,” the airline said.
Vasily Golubev, the governor of the Rostov region some 950 km (600 miles) south of Moscow, was quoted by Russian news agencies as telling local journalists that the plane crashed about 250 meters (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 Golubev said: “By all appearances, the cause of the air crash was the strongly gusting wind, approaching a hurricane level.”
State news agency Tass said weather data from the area indicated that winds were anywhere from 14 to 22 meters per second (30-50 mph) at the time of the crash and that there was light rain.
Ian Petchenik, a spokesman for the flight-tracking website Flightradar24, said that the plane missed an approach then entered a holding pattern. It tried to land again before contact was lost.
Last Oct. 31, 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 on board.
Russian news reports said most of those aboard were Russian tourists but there were unspecified foreigners on the plane as well.
FlyDubai is a budget airline launched in 2008 by the government of Dubai, the Persian 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.