Moscow: Russia's Emergencies Ministry says a passenger airliner from Dubai has crashed while trying to land at the airport in the southern city of Rostov-on-Don.
A ministry statement says the crash occurred Saturday morning and identified the plane as a Boeing 737-800 that was coming from Dubai, but did not say how many people were aboard. Russian news reports cited unnamed sources as saying there were around 60 people aboard. This was confirmed by Marina Kostioukova, spokeswoman for the local emergencies ministry, who said, "The plane with 55 passengers and four or five crew on board, coming from Dubai, crashed as it came into land at the airport in Rostov-on-Don."
According to AFP, officials later confirmed that the number of people killed aboard the flight was 61. The accident occurred at around 12.50 am GMT (6.20 am IST), according to an official statement from the ministry. "The Boeing 737 on the Dubai to Rostov-on-Don route caught fire (after crashing)," said the statement, adding that the fire was brought under control by 2 am GMT (7.30 am IST).
The FlyDubai airline said on its Facebook page: "We are aware of an incident involving our flight FZ981 from Dubai to Rostov On Don. We are investigating."
State news agency Tass reported that the Investigative Committee, the country's top investigative agency, said preliminary information indicates the plane was landing when it hit the ground and broke into pieces at the airport about 950 kilometres (600 miles) south of Moscow.
There was no immediate information on the cause, although some news reports suggested weather could have been a factor. There was rain and winds of about 11 meter per second (25 mph) at the time of the crash.
On 31 October a Russian airliner blew up in the air over Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, killing all 224 aboard. Investigators determined it was destroyed by a bomb onboard.
The plane belonged to a Dubai-based airline, the statement said.
With inputs from agencies