A passenger plane from Dubai crashed on Saturday while trying to land at the airport in the southern city of Rostov-on-Don. The crash is believed to have killed all 62 passengers and crew on board.
The Flydubai airline – a low-budget Dubai-based airline - initially said on its Facebook page: ""We are aware of an incident involving our flight FZ981 from Dubai to Rostov On Don. We are investigating." It then posted several updates confirming the crash and provided more information on the passengers.
Vasily Golubev, the governor of the Rostov region some 950 kilometers south of Moscow, was quoted by Russian news agencies as telling local journalists that the plane crashed about 250 meters 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."
Russia's Emergencies Ministry said the crash occurred Saturday morning and identified the plane as a Boeing 737-800 that was coming from Dubai. The ministry later said that survivors were unlikely and that there were 55 passengers aboard and seven crew, based on preliminary information.
"At the moment, we are still receiving more information,” a Flydubai spokesperson told Al Arabiya English on Saturday morning.
"Fatalities have been confirmed. We are doing all we can do gather information as quickly as possible. At this moment our thoughts are with families of the passengers and crew who were onboard the aircraft.”
"We will do everything to support those who have been affected. We have put our emergency response in place and we are working closely with the authorities involved. We will share as much information as possible just as soon as we can and provide updates on a regular basis.”
The spokesperson said he had "no information” regarding a CCTV video circulating online and would not verify its authenticity. The video published to YouTube appeared to show a fireball as the aircraft crashed into the ground.
In response to the crash Flydubai CEO Ghaith Al Ghaith, said: "Our primary concern is for the families of the passengers and crew who were on board.
"Everyone at Flydubai is in deep shock and our hearts go out to the families and friends of those involved. We don’t yet know all the details of the accident but we are working closely with the authorities to establish the cause. We are making every effort to care for those affected and will provide assistance to the loved ones of those on board.”
State news agency Tass reported that the Investigative Committee, the country's top investigative agency, said preliminary information indicates the plane was landing when it hit the ground and broke into pieces at the airport about 950 kilometers south of Moscow.
The aircraft had to abandon an initial attempt to land and came down while making a repeat attempt, according to a ministry statement.