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Spanish crew members perish in FlyDubai FZ981 crash
TWO Spaniards were on board flight FZ981 when it crashed in the early hours of this morning in Rostóv-na-Donú, Russia, with no survivors.
Co-pilot Alejandro Álava Cruz, 37, from Tenerife – son of a well-known doctor on the island - and Xavier Alejandro Curbelo Caro from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, whose sister Noelia is PR director for Binter, were two of the seven crew members who perished along with the 55 passengers when the FlyDubai craft went down at 03.40hrs local time (01.40hrs mainland Spain time).
Eight of the passengers were Ukrainian, two are Indian and one from Uzbekistan, with all the others being Russians.
The rest of the crew were the Greek pilot, one Colombian, one from Kazakhstan, one Russian, and one from the Seychelles.
Practically all the passengers were tourists returning from a holiday in the United Arab Emirates' largest city on the low-cost Boeing 738 airline, and included entire families – four children are said to be among the victims.
Following the air crash in October which killed all 224 passengers and crew on board a flight returning to Russia from Egypt's Sinai peninsula, shot down by the so-called Islamic State, or DAESH, initial fears were that this morning's tragedy was a terrorist attack.
CCTV footage revealed a massive explosion and a 'huge flash' as the FlyDubai craft hit the ground 250 metres from the runway in the south-eastern Russian city, and the country's air crash investigation committee said the plane 'broke up on landing'.
But this time, the crash appears to have been caused by gale-force winds, poor visibility due to fog and torrential rain, and possible pilot error.
The craft is said to have aborted its first attempt to land at 01.30hrs local time (23.30hrs mainland Spain time) and then spent the next two hours circling the air-space above Rostóv-na-Donú before trying again.
It was on the second attempt that the aircraft missed the beginning of the runway by 250 metres.
Rostov airport – one of the largest in the south of Russia – closed immediately after the accident happened and all other flights are being diverted to the airport in Krasnodar.
Russian authorities have recovered the two black boxes and are in the process of studying them to see whether they provide any further clues as to the causes of the tragedy.
FlyDubai is a low-cost airline based in the UAE city since it was founded in 2009, and connects Dubai with around 100 other cities in Asia and eastern Europe, including Moscow (Russia), Kiev (Ukraine), Sofia (Bulgaria) and Belgrade (Serbia).
The Boeing 738 took off on its first commercial flight in December 2010, and it is not thought any technical or mechanical faults came into the equation.
Investigators say 'everything was normal' until the pilot tried to circle for a final time above the airport, and it was this manoeuvre rather than an actual landing which caused the plane to fall out of the sky.
Rostóv-na-Donú is just to the east of Ukraine, above the Black Sea, and directly due north of eastern Turkey.
It is the capital of Russia's Óblast region and sits on the river Donú.
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