2016-03-19 12:50:00

AirDubai plane crashes in Russia, 62 killed

(Vatican Radio) Russian officials say a passenger plane carrying 62 people from Dubai has crashed while landing in the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don in strong winds, killing all aboard. The Boeing 737-800 belonged to the relatively new budget carrier FlyDubai which expressed shock over the tragedy.

Listen to Stefan Bos' report:

In rain and wind ambulances and police rushed to the airport in Rostov-on-Don, but their help came too late for those aboard flight FZ981. The FlyDubai budget carrier confirmed that its plane crashed on landing at the airport, some 950 kilometers south of Russia's capital Moscow.

The airliner, which has been flying since 2009, said it is "with great sadness" that it had to announce that there were apparently no survivors. The Dubai-based airline said those worried about their loved ones should call + 44 203 4508 853 or +971 4 293 4100.

A list published by the Emergencies Ministry showed the Boeing 737-800 was carrying 55 passengers and seven crew members, whose nationalities were not immediately confirmed. Of the 55 passengers on board, 33 were women, 18 men and 4 children, officials said.


Igor Oder, head of Russia's Emergencies Ministry's southern regional operations, said in a televised briefing that all passengers had been killed.

Russian officials said the plane crashed about 250 meters short of the runway and that the the cause of the air crash appears to be linked to strongly gusting winds, approaching hurricane level.

Yet pilot John M. Cox, who has been investigating crashes for decades, told Russia's RT Television he was surprised about the number of casualties. "When the airplane is relatively close to the airport it tends to go much slower than it is at cruise [speed]. And ofcourse that lower speed increases the survival capability. So I am a little surprised that all ... people aboard perished," added Cox, who leads U.S.-based consultancy firm Safety Operating Systems (SOS).

"It is a great tragedy because they were in proximity to the airport and normally they're going at a slower speed," the expert added.  

News reports said the plane caught fire after the crash. Investigations were ongoing, but Russia has come under pressure over aviation safety in and around airports.

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