russia, pad aviona, rodbina poginulih.jpg
Photograph: EPA/MAXIM ROMANOV

A low-cost carrier passenger plane flying from the United Arab Emirates to Russia crashed early Saturday in stormy weather while attempting a second landing in the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don, killing all 62 people on board.

The cause of the crash was not immediately known. Officials in Russia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) suggested the disaster was the result of poor weather conditions.

Airline FlyDubai said there were 55 passengers and seven crew members aboard flight FZ981, which had departed Dubai airport at 1820 GMT on Friday and was due to arrive that evening at 2240 GMT.

"I am very sorry to say that we believe that there are no survivors," FlyDubai executive Ghaith al-Ghaith said.

The Dubai-based carrier identified the nationalities of the passengers as 44 Russians, eight Ukrainians, two Indians and one from Uzbekistan.

The fatalities included 33 women, 18 men and four children, it said.

"We don't yet know all the details of the accident but we are working closely with the authorities to establish the cause," al-Ghaith said.

The FlyDubai chief said it was too early to blame human error for the crash. He also ruled out the possibility that the crash was caused by a bomb planted aboard the Boeing 737-800 aircraft.

The ill-fated plane was manufactured in 2011 and was last checked on January 21, the official told a press conference in Dubai.

Its pilot was from Cyprus and the co-pilot was from Spain. Al-Ghaith did not give details on the nationalities of other crew members.

FlyDubai has sent a team to Russia to join investigations, according to al-Ghaith.

Initial rescue efforts ended late Saturday and some of the bodies had been taken into the city to be identified, Emergencies Minister Vladimir Puchkov was quoted by state news agency TASS as saying.

Transportation Minister Maxim Sokolov said that experts had begun assessing the two flight recorders found in the wreckage.

The plane was about 250 metres short of the runway when it crashed at around 3:40 am local time (0040 GMT) and burst into flames, local officials said. The pilot had previously spent two hours circling the airport after aborting a first landing attempt.

Russian broadcaster Rossija24 reported that he had also attempted to abort the second landing, but the aircraft came into difficulty.

While the FlyDubai plane was circling, two other planes headed for Rostov-on-Don - one belonging to Russia's Aeroflot and another to Czech Airlines - were diverted to the Krasnodar airport 250 kilometres away.

A Russian Transport Ministry official told broadcasters that several possibilities were being examined, including bad weather and pilot error.

Meanwhile, the UAE civil aviation authority said the crash was probably due to bad weather.

"FlyDubai has a modern fleet of aircraft and professional crew," UAE civil aviation authority head Saif al-Seweidi said. "We back the likelihood that the accident resulted from bad weather."

Russian President Vladimir Putin offered his condolences to the families of the victims.

Boeing said in a statement that it "stands ready to provide technical assistance upon the request of government agencies conducting the investigation."

The tragedy marks the first aviation accident for FlyDubai. It is also the second time in only six months that grieving families have gathered at a Russian airport following an aviation disaster. In later October 2015, a bomb blew up a Russian passenger jet headed for St Petersburg over the Egyptian Sinai, killing all 224 people on board.

Latest news

Bomb explodes outside police officer's home in Northern Ireland

A bomb exploded outside a police officer's home in Northern Ireland on Wednesday but there were no immediate reports of casualties.

Denmark to charge man with blasphemy over burning Koran

Danish prosecutors said Wednesday they have opened a rare blasphemy case against a man who videotaped himself burning a copy of the Koran.

South Africa to raise taxes for the wealthiest

South Africa will raise the income tax rate for the country's wealthiest to 45 per cent from 41 per cent, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan announced Wednesday.

French centrist leader offers conditional support to Macron

The leader of France's centrist Democratic Movement party, Francois Bayrou, said Wednesday he was willing to support reformist former economy minister Emmanuel Macron in the country's upcoming presidential election.

Amnesty International warns of nationalist rhetoric and hate speech in Croatia

Croatia continues to have problems with discrimination against ethnic minorities and with freedom of the media, while heightened nationalist rhetoric and hate speech during election time contributed to growing ethnic intolerance and insecurity in the country, global human rights watchdog Amnesty International said in its annual report on the state of human rights in the world in 2016/2017.

Official assigned to Wilders' security team held by Dutch police

A security official assigned to protect Dutch far-right politician Geert Wilders is being held by police on suspicion of passing along classified information about the lawmaker to a Dutch-Moroccan crime gang.

Italy's 'Red Thing' could make impact in election debut, polls show

Two polls conducted for RAI public broadcaster released Wednesday showed a new entity that split from Italy's ruling Democratic Party

Council: Nixing grants to "Novosti" would cause far-reaching implications

The Council for National Minorities, a state-level autonomous umbrella organisation for all ethnic minorities in Croatia, has stated that the cancellation of financial grants to the "Novosti", a newspaper of the ethnic Serb minority, would produce far-reaching implications and stir criticism for reduction of free speech and of freedom of expression of the most numerous ethnic minority.

Russia to build replica Reichstag for schoolchildren to storm

A military-themed park in a suburb of Moscow will soon install a replica of Berlin's Reichstag for Russian schoolchildren to storm, Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said Wednesday.

Alitalia strike set for Thursday, hundreds of flights cancelled

Employees of Italy's loss-making airline Alitalia will go on strike Thursday, air transport unions confirmed, after government talks with both sides failed to break the deadlock.

EU calls on Germany to reduce large current account surplus

The European Commission on Wednesday called on Germany, the bloc's biggest economy, to reduce its large current account surplus and focus on boosting domestic consumption.

Germans' demand for Croatian destinations on steady rise

Bookings for Croatia's destinations in some regions of Bavaria have been rising and some statistics show a 30% increase year-on-year, according to the preliminary information from the "f.re.e." fair for leisure and travel, which opened in Munich on Wednesday and runs through Sunday.