62 killed as plane crashes in Russia

Sunday March 20 2016

A handout picture released by Russia's Emergencies Ministry shows Russian rescuers working at the crash site of a passenger plane in Rostov-on-Don on March 19, 2016. A Boeing passenger jet operated by the Flydubai budget airline crashed in southern Russia, killing all 62 people on board as it tried to land in bad weather, officials said. PHOTO | AFP

A handout picture released by Russia's Emergencies Ministry shows Russian rescuers working at the crash site of a passenger plane in Rostov-on-Don on March 19, 2016. A Boeing passenger jet operated by the Flydubai budget airline crashed in southern Russia, killing all 62 people on board as it tried to land in bad weather, officials said. PHOTO | AFP 

By AFP
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DUBAI, Saturday

Flydubai played down the possibility that terrorism caused the crash of one of its planes in Russia on Saturday, killing all 62 people on board.

The arline’s chief executive Ghaith al-Ghaith described such a suggestion as “speculation”.

He told a news conference in Dubai that the Cypriot pilot and Spanish co-pilot each had nearly 6,000 hours of flying experience.

“The five other crew members were from Spain, Russia, the Seychelles, Colombia and Kyrgyzstan,” he said.

“The aircraft was checked on January 21,” Ghaith added.

The Boeing 737, which came from the United Arab Emirates was making its second attempt to land when it missed the runway in the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don, erupting in a fireball.

Ghaith said officials from the UAE civil aviation authorities and Flydubai were going to Russia to participate in the investigation.

Asked if they would include explosive experts, civil aviation official Ismail al-Hosani told the same news conference: “No, there is nothing we said about a bomb.”

Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades named the pilot as Aristos Socratous, expressing his “shock and deep sorrow” over the crash.

The Russian embassy in Nicosia said Socratous was 38 years old and from the southern town of Limassol.