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61 dead as passenger plane crashes in Russia

19 March 2016, 10:03

Moscow - An airliner with 61 people aboard coming from Dubai crashed early on Saturday while landing in the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don, Russia's Emergencies Ministry said.

All 55 passengers and six crew members had been killed, Igor Oder, head of the emergency ministry's southern regional operations, told Emergencies Minister Vladimir Puckhov in a televised briefing.

The plane was a Boeing 737-800 flying for the budget carrier FlyDubai.

"We are aware of an incident involving our flight FZ981 from Dubai to Rostov-on-Don. We are investigating the details and we will publish an update once more information is available," the Dubai-based carrier said in response to questions from the AP.

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 950km south of Moscow.

There was no immediate information on the cause, although some news reports suggested weather could have been a factor.

Tass said weather data from the area indicated that winds were anywhere from 14 to 22 meters per second at the time of the crash and that there was light rain.

Ian Petchenik, a spokesperson for the flight-tracking website Flightradar24, told AP that the plane initially tried to land at Rostov-on-Don then entered a holding pattern and tried to land again before contact was lost.

On October 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 onboard.

Russian news reports said most of those aboard were Russian tourists but there were unspecified foreign passengers as well.

This footage shows the moment the aircraft crashed:

- AP


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