A PLANE with 62 people on board nosedived and exploded in a giant fireball on Saturday while making a second attempt to land in strong winds in the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don, killing all aboard, officials said.

FlyDubai (library photo)
FlyDubai (library photo)

The pilots of FlyDubai flight FZ981 which crashed in Russia on its way from Dubai were from Cyprus and Spain and hadn’t issued any distress signal before the crash. They had 5,965 and 5,769 hours of flying time respectively.

The cabin crew included two Russians and citizens of Seychelles, Colombia and Kyrgyzstan.

According to Russian media reports, teams from the Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations (Emercom) have recovered the plane’s black box recorders at the crash site.

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 that there were no survivors and said four children were among those killed.

Rostov regional Governor Vasily Golubev said that “by all appearances, the cause of the air crash was the strongly gusting wind, approaching a hurricane level.”

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 at an altitude of 500 metres (1,640 feet) and higher they reached a near-hurricane speed of around 30 metres per second (67 miles per hour).

A spokesman for the flight-tracking website Flightradar24, told The Associated Press that the plane missed its approach then entered a holding pattern.

According to Flightradar24, the plane circled for about two hours before making another landing attempt. It said a Russian Aeroflot plane scheduled to land around the same time made three landing attempts but then diverted to another airport.

According to its data, the plane began climbing again after a go-around when it suddenly started to fall with vertical speed of up to 6,400 metres per minute (21,000 feet/min).

Closed-circuit TV footage showed the plane going down in a steep angle and exploding.

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