UPDATE: 12:30 p.m. EDT — Investigators looking into the Flydubai Flight 981 crash in Russia have said that either mechanical failure or pilot error were the most likely reasons for the mishap, ABC News reported.
“Two theories of the plane crash are being explored ... The first one is pilot error in acting in difficult meteorological conditions, and the second is mechanical failure,” Oksana Kovrizhnaya, a representative of the Russian Investigative Committee’s Southern Transport Investigative Department, said Saturday, according to ABC News.
It was believed earlier that bad weather may have been the main cause of the plane going down. Wind speed at the time was recorded at about 40 mph. Killing all 62 people aboard, the plane crash can be seen in the background of a security video.
UPDATE: 6:20 a.m. EDT — Flydubai CEO Ghaith Al Ghaith said Saturday in a press conference, according to Reuters, that it was too early to speculate on what caused Flydubai Flight 981 to crash.
“We will have information about the circumstances of the incident and the black box in the future, and an investigation is being conducted in cooperation with the Russian authorities and we are waiting to see the results,” Ghaith said, according to Reuters, adding: “There was no distress call (issued) from the pilot.”
The Reuters report also added that the Boeing 737-800 plane crashed on its second attempt to land at the Rostov-on-Don airport, killing all 62 people on board. The plane hit the ground and broke into pieces, resulting in a massive fireball at the site, the Guardian reported
Ghaith also said in the press conference, according to Emirates 24/7, a Dubai-based news website, that Russian officials were leading the investigation into the crash. He added that the pilot of the plane had flown nearly 6,000 hours.“On behalf of everyone at Flydubai, I'd like to express the devastation that we all feel. Everyone at our company is in deep shock. Our hearts go out to all involved,” Ghaith said.
UPDATE: 3:43 a.m. EDT — Rescue officials have found one of the two flight recorders of Flydubai Flight 981, a Boeing 737-800 plane that crashed in the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don, Sputnik news reported citing the Investigative Committee chief Vladimir Markin.
Personnel from the Emergency Ministry are currently recovering the remains of the 62 people on board, all of whom were killed in the crash. The ministry also published the list of the victims involved in the crash, the cause of which is being investigated. Of those on the plane, 55 were passengers and seven were crew members. Flydubai CEO Ghaith Al Ghaith is set to hold a press conference soon, Dubai’s media agency said.
UPDATE: 2:56 a.m. EDT — The media portal of the government of Dubai announced the nationalities of the victims aboard on the Flydubai Flight 981 that crashed while landing early Saturday killing 62 people on board. A report by Sputnik news also said that there were no survivors in the crash of the Boeing 737-800 plane at Rostov-on-Don airport, southern Russia.
Nationalities of victims from the passengers of Fly Dubai plane in Russia include:
8 from Ukraine
2 from India
1 from Uzbekistan
— Dubai Media Office (@DXBMediaOffice) March 19, 2016
The report by Sputnik News cited a statement by the Russian Emergencies Ministry, which said: “According to preliminary information, there were 62 people on board (55 passengers and 7 crew members), the information is being verified.”
The Dubai media office also said that the nationalities of the crew members will be announced soon.
A criminal investigation has been opened into the crash of Flydubai Flight 981 early Saturday over a suspected violation of safety regulations, the official representative of the Russian Investigative Committee Vladimir Markin told Tass news agency. The Boeing 737-800 plane from Dubai crashed while landing at an airport in the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don, killing 55 passengers and six crew members, including 11 foreign members.
According to a report by Sputnik news, the crash falls under the “violation of transport safety rules and the operation of air transport,” Markin said. Meanwhile, Tass reported that pilot error, along with a tailstrike, could be behind the crash.
The black box of the plane has not yet been found, Tass reported. The report also added, citing Rostov Oblast Governor Vasily Y. Golubev, that relatives of those on board the plane will receive 1 million rubles ($14,758).
A source at the airport told Russian agency RIA, according to Sputnik News, that at the time of the crash, wind speeds were over 20 meters per second (44 miles per hour). Sources from emergency ministry also said there was low visibility due to rain.
Boeing said in a statement Saturday: “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,” adding: “In accordance with the international protocol governing aviation accident investigations, all inquiries about the investigation must be directed to investigating authorities."
Flydubai released a new statement on the crash and said that the company was doing everything it could to help those affected in the accident.
“The aircraft departed from Dubai International (DXB) at 18:20 GMT (2:20 p.m. EDT) bound for Rostov on Don (ROV). The accident occurred in Rostov on Don at approximately 00:50 GMT (8:50 p.m. EDT),” Flydubai said in a statement, adding: “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. We will do everything we can to help those who have been affected by this accident.”
The statement also said: “We are putting our emergency response in place and we will be working closely with all the authorities involved.”
Most of those on board were residents of Rostov-on-Don while sources also told RIA that the foreign passengers on the flight included three Ukrainian nationals. There was also an Indian national and a citizen from Uzbekistan on the plane. The crew members were mostly from the United Arab Emirates while a Russian national was also among them, an Emergencies Ministry source told Tass. All passengers on board are believed to have been tourists.
Relatives of passengers have started arriving at the Rostov-on-Don airport, Tass reported, adding that a member of the Russian legislative assembly and his wife were also killed in the crash.