A passenger plane carrying 62 people nosedived and exploded in a fireball while trying to land in strong winds in the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don, killing all on board.
FlyDubai confirmed that there were no survivors and said four children were among those killed.
The explosion blew the plane apart but investigators quickly recovered both flight recorders. The cause of the crash wasn’t immediately known, but officials and experts said a sudden gust of wind was a possible reason.
“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,” said CEO Ghaith al-Ghaith.
He said the pilots, who were from Cyprus and Spain, hadn’t issued any distress signal before the crash. They had 5,965 and 5,769 hours of flying time respectively, making them “quite experienced”, al-Ghaith added. The cabin crew included two Russians and citizens of Seychelles, Colombia and Kyrgyzstan.
Al-Ghaith said the plane was produced in 2011 and underwent a detailed maintenance inspection known as a “C check” in January.
Vasily Golubev, the governor of the Rostov region, was quoted by Russian news agencies as saying the plane crashed about 250 metres short of the runway.
“By all appearances, the cause of the air crash was the strongly gusting wind, approaching a hurricane level,” he said.
According to the weather data reported by Russian state television, winds at ground level weren’t dangerously strong at the moment of the crash, but above an altitude of 500 metres they reached a near-hurricane speed of around 67mph.
President Vladimir Putin offered his condolences to the victims’ families.