Russian officials have confirmed that 62 individuals aboard a passenger jet flying from Dubai crashed in southern Russia early Saturday morning.
According to the Washington Post, the incident is being blamed on “poor weather conditions” as the Boeing 737-800 being operated by FlyDubai went down during a repeated landing attempt at around 03:50 local time Saturday in the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don.
A criminal investigation was opened by the country’s Investigative Committee early Saturday morning in order to rule out any possible safety violations that may have led to the fatal crash. Russian officials, however, believe that the incident was not a result of foul play or an act of terror, but on “hurricane like winds” instead.
Russian officials reported that the plane’s wing had “hit the runway, began to break up, and burst into flames,” on its second approach to land in heavy winds. There were no survivors, as the 55 passengers aboard, and seven crew members were all lost in the incident.
“The aircraft hit the ground and broke into pieces,” read a statement from the Investigative Committee of Russia on its website.
“In all likelihood, the cause of the air crash was heavy winds approaching hurricane-strength,” said Vasily Golubev, the governor of the Rostov region, said in remarks broadcast on television early Saturday. The majority of passengers were from the city of Rostov-on-Don and the surrounding region, he said.
Sources have mentioned that the plane abandoned its first landing attempt due to extreme weather and circled the airport for two hours before attempting a second landing, which was captured by a CCTV camera and shows the plane coming in at a steep angle before crashing into the ground and bursting into flames.
Authorities are reporting that the FlyDubai aircraft had come up short of the runway by more than 100 feet.
An estimated 700 rescue workers were rushed to the site of the crash in an attempt to minimize the fire that was created from the explosion, and a search is being conducted in an attempt to locate the plane’s flight recorders for further clues on what transpired within the flights cockpit.
According to a State-run media site, six flights were delayed after the incident and all inbound flights to the Russian airport were being rerouted to Krasnodar.
A Twitter post by The Dubai Media Office stated that the passengers on board included 44 people from Russia, eight from Ukraine, two from India and one from Uzbekistan.
More than 600 relatives of the plane crash victims comforted each other at the Rostov-on-Don airport, about 950 kilometers (600 miles) south of Moscow, Russia following the crash Saturday.
FlyDubai is the sister carrier to Emirates Airlines and was founded in 2008 as a budget service. The airlines operates an excess of 1,400 flights a week to an estimated 90 destinations, per its website, and has been rapidly expanding its footprint in Russia.
The recent aviation tragedy comes just months after an Islamic State-linked terrorist group took credit for the crash of a Russian charter jet carrying 224 people from Egypt to St. Petersburg in October. The terror group claimed to have detonated a homemade bomb aboard the plane which caused the aircraft to come crashing down in the Sinai desert.
[Image via AP]