More than 60 people have died after a FlyDubai passenger jet smashed into the ground while attempting to land at a Russian airport.
Flight FZ981 was carrying 55 passengers and seven crew members from Dubai when it crashed at Rostov-on-Don airport around 4am Moscow time.
Four children were among those killed in the smash, which happened as the plane attempted to land for a second time in bad weather conditions. Thirty-three women and 18 men were also travelling.
The plane went up in flames after its tail hit the runway and disintegrated, a statement released by Russia’s Emergencies Ministry confirmed. Pilot error or a technological failure are thought to be the two main causes being investigated.
The aircraft, which was allegedly piloted by Cypriot Aristos Sokratous, was predominantly carrying Russian passengers, although eight Ukrainians, two Indians and one person from Uzbekistan were also on board.
Emergency services were this morning at the airport attempting to clear up the debris from the Boeing 737. Photographs showed officials standing in thick fog and rain as they scoured the crash site.
Meanwhile, relatives were pictured sobbing at the airport as FlyDubai began to contact families about the crash.
A statement from the aircraft said: ‘We are currently contacting relatives of the passengers and crew who were on board and we are offering any help we can to those affected.’
Nicos Anastasiade, president of Cyprus, also paid tribute Mr Sokratous, who leaves behind a child and was allegedly recently married.
Indonesian officials say 141 bodies have been recovered after a military transport plane crashed in a residential area of Medan on Tuesday.
The military says none of the 122 people on board the Hercules C-130 survived when it hit houses and a hotel before bursting into flames.
Many of the victims are thought to have been relatives of servicemen and women.
But the latest death toll indicates there were at least 19 people killed on the ground.
The BBC’s Alice Budisatrijo in Jakarta says the military has repeatedly revised the passenger list, a sign of how loosely the military keeps track of who gets on its planes.
It is also investigating whether some of those on board were paying passengers which is not permitted, she adds.
Police official Agustinus Tarigan told reporters at a Medan hospital on Wednesday morning that 141 bodies had been received.
One official told the Jakarta Globe newspaper that some of the victims were having to be identified by blood samples.
‘Fire and smoke’
The cause of the crash is not yet known, but witnesses said the plane appeared to run into trouble shortly after taking off from Medan – Indonesia’s third largest city – for Tanjung Pinang, an island off Sumatra.
“It passed overhead a few times, really low,” a witness named Elfrida Efi told the Reuters news agency.
“There was fire and black smoke. The third time it came by it crashed into the roof of the hotel and exploded straight away.”
Air Force head Agus Supriatna said on Tuesday that the pilot had asked to return to base because of technical difficulties.
“The plane crashed while it was turning right to return to the airport,” he said.
President Joko Widodo used Twitter to send his condolences to the families, wishing them “patience and strength”.
Engine trouble might have caused crash
Authorities are still investigating what caused the disaster. Supriatna said Wednesday that they suspect engine trouble might have been to blame.
Maj. Gen. Fuad Basya, an Indonesian military spokesman, had said Tuesday that the aircraft, built in the United States in the 1960s, had been inspected and cleared to fly before it took off from Medan.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo called for a review of military equipment in light of the disaster.
“Following several plane crashes, we should conduct a total audit and modernize the (old) planes,” Jokowi said, according to Indonesia’s national news agency, Antara.
Plane was carrying people, supplies between islands
The plane was carrying people and logistical supplies to bases on other Indonesian islands.
It began its multistop journey Tuesday in Jakarta, the capital, and had made two stops along the way to Medan, in Pekanbaru and Dumai. Sometimes, Indonesian civilians also hitch rides on military flights to get to islands which might otherwise be inaccessible.
The military has set up command posts in Jakarta and Medan to help the victims’ families, Supriatna said.
Antara reported that the plane hit a busy road that connects Medan with the highland tourist resort of Brastagi.
The crash site is about 5 kilometers (3 miles) from the air base, Basya said.
History of crashes
The Hercules transport plane was manufactured in 1964, but a military spokesman said he was convinced that it was in good condition.
This is the fourth crash involving the military in three years, says our correspondent, and many Indonesians are demanding an upgrade of its mostly outdated defence equipment.
It is also the second time in 10 years that a plane has crashed in Medan.
In September 2005, a Boeing 737 came down in a crowded residential area shortly after take-off from Medan’s Polonia airport, killing 143 people including 30 on the ground.
Indonesian military aircraft crashes since 2009:
April 2015: An F-16 fighter jet catches fire as it takes off from an airbase in Jakarta
March 2015: Two air force planes from an Indonesian aerobatics team crash during a practice session
November 2013: An army helicopter crashes near the Indonesian-Malaysian border, killing 13 people
August 2013: A door from a training helicopter falls onto a residential area of Jakarta
2012: Nine people killed after an Indonesian air force plane crashed into a housing complex in Jakarta
2009: Military transport plane carrying troops and their families crashed in Java, killing 98 people