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Russia: Flight Recorders of Deadly Plane Crash Badly Damaged


Russian Emergency Ministry employees investigate the wreckage of a crashed plane at the Rostov-on-Don airport, about 950 kilometers (600 miles) south of Moscow, March 19, 2016.

Aviation experts have begun an investigation into the downed FlyDubai airliner that crashed early Saturday in southern Russia, killing all 62 people on board.

However, Russian aviation officials said the plane's two flight data recorders were badly damaged and warned it could takes months to recover information leading to the cause of the crash.

Investigators from Russia, the United States and the United Arab Emirates spent Sunday searching for clues in the wreckage.

The cause of the crash is not yet known, but high and gusty winds may have been a factor.

Meanwhile, residents from the nearby town laid flowers and burned candles at a makeshift memorial at the entrance to the airport in the city of Rostov-on-Don.

The airport said Sunday it planned to re-open on Monday.

The FlyDubai aircraft 98 - a Boeing 737 - was only about five years old and had undergone an extensive maintenance inspection earlier this year. The airline, which began operations in 2009, has a strong safety record, with Saturday's crash the first deadly incident in the budget carrier's history.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said providing assistance to relatives of the victims is "a priority," according to a Kremlin spokesman. The Dubai Media Office says the victims include 44 Russians, eight Ukrainians, two Indians and one person from Uzbekistan.

Dubai-based airline FlyDubai and the Boeing aircraft company have expressed condolences to the families of the victims. FlyDubai said the passengers were 33 women, 18 men and 4 children.

FlyDubai CEO Ghaith Al Ghaith said it seemed there was no distress call, adding that the airline staff is "in deep shock.” The airline was working with authorities to establish the cause of the crash, he said.

Ghaith also said the airline has set up call centers for the relatives of passengers.

U.S.-based Boeing says it is ready to provide technical assistance upon request of the government agencies involved.

Reports say the plane circled the airport in rain and strong winds for two hours, making at least one attempt to land before crashing and bursting into flames. Another plane bound for Rostov-on-Don diverted south to the Krasnodar airport and landed safely.

FlyDubai is a government-owned low budget airline linked to Emirates airlines. It has been flying to Russia since 2013.