-- A plane carrying 55 passengers from Dubai crashed in southern Russia early Saturday morning in strong winds, killing all on board, authorities said.
All 55 passengers and seven crew members on FlyDubai flight 981 were killed, Igor Oder, head of Russia's Emergency Ministry's southern regional operations said in a televised briefing, according to Associated Press. The aircraft was a Boeing 737-800 jet.
Of the 55 passengers on board, 33 were women, 18 were men and four were children, FlyDubai said.
The Dubai Media Office says passengers killed in the crash include 44 Russians, eight Ukrainians, two Indians and one person from Uzbekistan.
The cause of the crash remains unknown, but Russian investigators said they found one of the plane's flight recorders, according to Associated Press. Vladimir Markin, the spokesman for the Investigative Committee, said experts have found the cockpit conversation recorder and are continuing the search for another one which records parameters of the flight.
The Russian Emergency Situations Ministry said in a statement, "The plane made a second round coming in to land because of bad weather conditions. At landing the wing touched the runway, began to break down and burst into flames. At present, no combustion."
And according to Associated Press, Vasily Golubev, the governor of the Rostov region, said, "By all appearances, the cause of the air crash was the strongly gusting wind, approaching a hurricane level."
Russian officials said winds were anywhere from 14 to 22 meters per second (30-50 miles per hour) at the time of the crash and that there was light rain, according to Associated Press.
The airline released this statement on its Facebook page: "FlyDubai regrets to confirm that flight FZ981 crashed on landing and that fatalities have been confirmed as a result of this tragic accident. The aircraft departed from Dubai International (DXB) at 18:20 GMT bound for Rostov on Don (ROV). The accident occurred in Rostov on Don at approximately 00:50 GMT."
According to the Russian Emergency Situations Ministry, the manager of the Rostov-on-Don airport received information about an accident with FlyDubai Flight 981, followed by a fire.
FlyDubai also said on its Facebook page, "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. 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 released a statement early Saturday morning: "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. In accordance with the international protocol governing aviation accident investigations, all inquiries about the investigation must be directed to investigating authorities."
FlyDubai is a budget airline launched in 2008 by the government of Dubai, the Gulf commercial hub that is part of the seven-state United Arab Emirates federation. Its first flight took to the skies in 2009.
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