Russian Emergency Ministry employees are seen among the wreckage of a crashed plane at the Rostov-on-Don airport, about 950 kilometers (600 miles) south of Moscow, Russia, March 19, 2016. 
Photo by STR/AP

Weather, pilot error eyed as possible causes of deadly plane crash in Russia


An airliner from Dubai crashed Saturday morning while landing in Russia amid poor weather conditions, killing all 62 people on board, officials said.

MSNBC Live with Alex Witt, 3/19/16, 7:25 AM ET

Plane crash in Russia kills all 62 on board

A passenger jet crashed in Russia killing all 62 on board. MSNBC’s Alex Witt reports.

Pilot error and bad weather were both being looked at as possible causes, Russian officials said. The crash was not believed to be terror-related.

“The plane touched the ground and fell to pieces,” said the Russian Investigative Committee, the equivalent of the FBI.

CCTV video from near the crash site showed a ball of flames raining down and then a massive explosion through the trees.

The Boeing 737-800 operated by FlyDubai had to abandon an initial attempt to land at Rostov-on-Don airport, its scheduled destination, and came down while making a second attempt, according to Russia’s emergencies ministry. It was in a mid-air holding pattern for about two hours before the crash.

Both black boxes have been found, said Zhanna Terekhova, a spokeswoman for Russia’s Transportation Ministry. The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board said it is assisting Russian officials with the investigation.

The crash occurred at around 3:50 a.m. local time (8:50 p.m. ET Friday) at Rostov-on-Don in southern Russia, the budget airliner said in a statement.

The airliner’s CEO Ghaith Al Ghaith confirmed in a statement that there were no survivors and said everyone is in “deep shock.”

“We do not yet know all the details of the incident but we are working closely with the authorities to establish precisely what happened,” he said. “We are making every effort to care for those affected and will provide assistance to the families and friends of those who were on board.”

Forty-four of the passengers were Russian, eight Ukrainian, two Indian and one Uzbek. The airline did not say where the seven crew members were from.

Of the passengers, 33 were women, 18 were men and four were children. Among the crew, five were male and two were female.

Nearly 850 emergency crews responded to the scene, the Rostov branch of the Emergency Situations Ministry said. Dozens of psychologists were deployed by Russia’s Emergency Situations Ministry to help relatives.

Rostov-on-Don in southern Russia
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Rostov governor Vasily Golubev told local media that “the only version of the plane crash currently under consideration is weather,” However, Terekhova, the Transportation Ministry spokeswoman, said on Russian television that pilot error was also considered a possible explanation.

It was 42 degrees Fahrenheit and raining at the airport Saturday morning, and Interfax news agency reported that winds were gusting at around 60 mph at the time of the landing.

“The plane apparently hit the ground at second landing attempt,” Igor Oder, head of the Emergency Situations Ministry, told Interfax.

Ghaith said he was “personally leading” the accident response. Boeing also offered technical assistance in the investigation.

There was no distress call issued by the pilot, Ghaith said at a news conference in Dubai.

Local governor Vasily Golubev allotted compensation of a million rubles ($15,000) to the families of each victim and declared Sunday a day of mourning in the Rostov region.

This is the first-ever crash for the airline since it started flying in 2009, according to Reuters. The airline last suffered a safety incident on Jan. 27, when one of its plane was shot at while landing at Baghdad airport. 

Elizabeth Chuck and Reuters also contributed to this report.

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Weather, pilot error eyed as possible causes of deadly plane crash in Russia