Updated: March 20, 2016 4:08:09 pm
Aviation experts on Sunday began examining the black boxes from the FlyDubai flight that crashed amid high winds at an airport in southern Russia, while emergency workers finished combing the debris-laden runway.
FlyDubai’s Boeing 737-800 from Dubai nosedived and exploded in a giant fireball before dawn Saturday after trying to land for a second time in strong winds in the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don. FlyDubai confirmed all 62 people on the plane were killed. Most of the passengers were Russian.
Several planes had trouble landing at the airport at the time of the crash, with one trying to land three times before giving up and diverting to another airport, experts said.
Sergei Zaiko, deputy chairman of the Inter-State Aviation Committee, told Russia’s Channel One that experts on Sunday were looking at the plane’s cockpit voice and flight data recorders, which were delivered to Moscow earlier in the day.
They will be viewed by experts from Russia, the United Arab Emirates, France and the U.S., since the American-made Boeing plane had French-made engines.
At Rostov-on-Don, hundreds of people flocked Sunday to the airport, the region’s largest, to lay flowers and leave candles and toys in memory of the dead. The city is 950 kilometers (600 miles) south of Moscow near the Ukrainian border.
State-owned Rossiya-24 on Sunday interviewed a woman living nearby who said she was woken up by the sound of the explosion.
“The housed started shaking. I looked out of the window: the sky was red and in a few seconds it was over,” said the woman, whom Rossiya did not identify.
Closed-circuit TV footage showed the plane going down at a steep angle and exploding. The powerful explosion left a big crater in the runway and pulverized the plane and passengers’ remains.
Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov told reporters that emergency teams had finished combing the area and that authorities were now waiting for investigators to give the green light to let repair teams onto runway. Sokolov said he expects the airport to open early Monday.
Some of the victims were from rebel-held areas in eastern Ukraine where fighting between Russian-backed separatists and Ukrainian government troops has killed more than 9,100 people since April 2014. The war has turned the region’s main airport of Donetsk into a wasteland, and many locals have been using the airport in Rostov across the border.
Self-proclaimed rebel authorities in Donetsk said Sunday that two residents had been killed in the crash, while the Komsomolskaya Pravda daily reported that a family of three from the rebel-controlled town of Sverdlovsk in Ukraine was among the victims.
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