A Dubai airliner with 62 people on board nosedived and exploded in a giant fireball early Saturday while trying to land in strong winds in the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don, killing all aboard, officials said.
RT reported sources in air-traffic control services said that “according to preliminary data, the Boeing 737 crashed in poor visibility conditions, some 50-100 meters left of the runway.”
Several planes had trouble landing at the airport at the time of the crash, with one trying to land three times before giving up and diverting to another airport, experts said.
Russia’s Emergencies Ministry said the Boeing 737-800 operated by FlyDubai was carrying 55 passengers, most of them Russians, and seven crew members. FlyDubai confirmed there were no survivors and said four children were among those killed.
It was FlyDubai’s first crash since the budget carrier began operating in 2009. Its fleet consists of mint 737-800 aircraft like the one that crashed.
Closed-circuit TV footage showed the plane going down in a steep angle and exploding. The powerful explosion left a big crater in the runway and pulverized the plane but investigators quickly recovered both flight recorders. The cause of the crash wasn’t immediately known, but officials and experts pointed at a sudden gust of wind as a possible reason.
“The plane with 55 passengers and four or five crew on board, coming from Dubai, crashed as came into land at the airport in Rostov-on-Don,” Marina Kostioukova, spokesman for the local emergencies ministry, was quoted by The Straits Times as saying.
Information from The Associated Press contributed to this story.