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FlyDubai airliner crashes in southern Russia, killing all 61 aboard

MOSCOW (AP) — A Boeing 737-800 passenger jet crashed into a ball of flames as it was trying to land at the Rostov-on-Don airport in southern Russia, killing all 61 people aboard, Russia’s Emergencies Ministry said Saturday.

Igor Odev, the head of the ministry’s southern regional operations, provided the figure at a televised briefing on Saturday morning. He said there were 55 passengers and six crew members aboard the FlyDubai flight that was en route from Dubai to Rostov-on-Don, Russia.

A flight-tracking service says a FlyDubai plane made one failed landing before the disaster.

Ian Petchenik, a spokesman for the website Flightradar24, told The Associated Press on Saturday that the Boeing 737-800 initially tried to land at Rostov on Don at 2231 GMT.

Petchenik says: “Based on our data, what it looks like is the aircraft made an initial landing attempt.”

He said the plane then entered a holding pattern at 2327 GMT near the airport, then left the holding pattern to try and land again at 0028 GMT. The flight offered its last data at 0041 GMT and lost contact.

Russian officials say 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.

In a statement, FlyDubai confirmed that its plane had crashed on landing, resulting in fatalities.

“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 airline said.

“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.”

Most of those aboard the crashed plane were local residents but preliminary data suggested three foreigners were also involved, Russia’s state-run Sputnik news agency reported, quoting the emergency center.

Boeing issued the following statement late Friday night:

“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.”