More than 60 people have died after a FlyDubai passenger jet smashed into the ground while attempting to land at a Russian airport.
Flight FZ981 was carrying 55 passengers and seven crew members from Dubai when it crashed at Rostov-on-Don airport around 4am Moscow time.
Four children were among those killed in the smash, which happened as the plane attempted to land for a second time in bad weather conditions. Thirty-three women and 18 men were also travelling.
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Rescuers from the Emergency Ministry were spotted searching through the wreckage on Saturday morning
This is believed to be the moment the crashed on landing at Rostov-on-Don airport in Russia
The plane went up in flames after its tail hit the runway and disintegrated, a statement released by Russia’s Emergencies Ministry confirmed.
The aircraft was predominantly carrying Russian passengers, although eight Ukrainians, two Indians and one person from Uzbekistan were also on board.
Emergency services were this morning at the airport attempting to clear up the debris from the Boeing 737.
Photographs showed officials standing in thick fog and rain as they scoured the crash site.
Meanwhile, relatives were pictured sobbing at the airport as FlyDubai began to contact families about the crash.
A statement from the aircraft said: ‘We are currently contacting relatives of the passengers and crew who were on board and we are offering any help we can to those affected.’
The aircraft was predominantly carrying Russian passengers, although eight Ukrainians, two Indians and one person from Uzbekistan were also on board. Above, a relative waits for information at the airport on Saturday morning
Relatives were pictured sobbing at the airport as FlyDubai began to contact families about the crash
A man reads the passengers’ list of the FlyDubai jet that crashed in the early hours of Saturday morning
It comes as YouTube footage released this morning appears to show a fireball as the aircraft crashes into the ground.
The grainy black and white footage allegedly shows the plane plummeting towards the ground before a large fireball spreads through the nearby trees.
Smoke can be seen rising into the dark sky as cars drive past the burning wreckage.
A seven-minute recording allegedly from traffic control tapes on Saturday morning appeared to show the pilots chatting normally to officials as they discussed the weather.
The pilots are asked repeatedly about their visibility and can be heard saying it is around 5km.
FlyDubai confirmed it was investigating the incident with officials on scene ‘trying to establish the facts’.
Emergency services were this morning at the airport attempting to clear up the debris from the Boeing 737
Shocking photographs taken of the scene on Saturday morning showed how the plane had been obliterated in the crash
Up to 80 people are thought to have been deployed to the scene as they desperately try and search the wreckage
Russian Emergency Situations Ministry employees and police officers are pictured on their way to the plane crash
A statement released on Saturday morning added: ‘Chief Executive Officer Ghaith Al Ghaith, with the support of the full management team, is leading our response to the accident.
‘At this stage the focus of our efforts is on establishing the facts around the incident and providing all possible support to the authorities. Our emergency response team are now en-route to Rostov-on-Don.’
Footage from aircraft data website FlightRadar 24 shows the aircraft made one attempt to land before it declared a missed approach and circled the airport for a second attempt.
Russian officials confirmed: ‘According to preliminary data, the Boeing 738 crashed in poor visibility conditions, some 50-100 meters left of the runway.’
FlyDubai had confirmed in an earlier statement that the flight crashed ‘on landing and that fatalities have been confirmed as a result of this tragic accident.’
They added: ‘We are doing all we can to gather information as quickly as possible.
‘At this moment our thoughts and prayers are with our passengers and our crew who were on board the aircraft.
Emergencies Minister Vladimir Puchkov told media during a press conference that it was scheduled to land at 6.20pm ET, which is 1.20am Moscow time, but crashed at 8.50pm ET, which is 3.50am Moscow time. Pictured above are emergency vehicles at the scene of the crash
The passenger jet was believed to be flying in poor visibility during the landing attempts. Pictured above are emergency vehicles at the scene of the crash
Emergency crews are currently working at the crash scene (above) as the fire has already been extinguished
Governor of Rostov region Vasily Golubev (above) talks to the media in a terminal of Rostov-on-Don airport about the plane crash. He was quoted by Russian news agencies as telling local journalists that the plane crashed about 250 meters (800 feet) short of the runway
‘We will do everything we can to help those who have been affected by this accident.
‘We are putting our emergency response in place and we will be working closely with all the authorities involved.
‘We will share as much information as possible just as soon as we can and we will provide updated information on a regular basis.’
Boeing also issued a statement about Flight FZ981 in the early hours of Saturday morning.
It said: ‘Boeing’s thoughts and prayers are with those on board FlyDubai flight FZ981 and their families and friends.
‘Boeing stands ready to provide technical assistance upon the request of government agencies conducting the investigation.
Emergency services staff organizes measures in connection with the crash of Fly Dubai Flight FZ981 in Rostov-on-Don airport
The latest FlyDubai statement revealed the aircraft were contacting relatives of passengers following the crash
‘In accordance with the international protocol governing aviation accident investigations, all inquiries about the investigation must be directed to investigating authorities.’
Roughly 80 rescuers were deployed to the site of the crash overnight and terrorism as a cause of the crash at this stage has been ruled out, according to CNN.
Vasily Golubev, the governor of the Rostov region, told journalists that the plane crashed about 250 meters (800ft) short of the runway.
The aircraft involved is believed to be FlyDubai Flight FZ981 using this Boeing 737-800 aircraft
FlyDubai released the above statement concerning FZ981 to Facebook around 10pm ET
Golubev added: ‘By all appearances, the cause of the air crash was the strongly gusting wind, approaching a hurricane level.’
The Russian Investigation Committee has launched a preliminary investigation into the accident.
The budget carrier FlyDubai launched in 2009, with a network of up to 90 destinations. They operate more than 1,700 flights each week.
Its Facebook page says: ‘From our hub in Dubai, we strive to remove barriers to travel and enhance connectivity between different cultures across our ever-expanding network.
‘Our agility and flexibility as a young airline has enhanced Dubai’s economic development, in line with the Government of Dubai’s vision, by creating trade and tourism flows in previously under-served markets.’