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Flight-Recorder Data Recovered From Plane Crash In Southern Russia

Russian Emergency Situations Ministry officers and investigators work at the crash site of the Boeing 737-800 Flight FZ981 operated by Dubai-based budget carrier FlyDubai at the airport of Rostov-On-Don on March 19.

Investigators in southern Russia say a flight recorder recovered from the FlyDubai passenger jet that crashed in Russia's southern city of Rostov-on Don has been opened and the records found to be of good quality.

Sergei Zaiko, the chief of Russia's Interstate Aviation Committee, said on March 20 that the flight recorder was working until the plane hit the ground on March 19, killing all 62 people aboard.

Earlier, the Inter-State Aviation Committee said in a statement that the plane's data and voice recorders had been heavily damaged in the crash.

The crash came as the pilot was trying to land at the airport in Rostov-on-Don.

Investigators on March 20 confirmed that all 55 passengers and seven crew members died instantly.

They have launched a criminal probe into whether the cause of the crash was a technical error, poor weather, or pilot error.

Authorities have also begun the process of identifying the collected human remains using DNA samples from relatives.

Meanwhile, hundreds of people flocked to the airport on March 20, the region's largest, to lay flowers and leave candles and toys in memory of the dead.

The airport remained closed on March 20 as workers repaired the runway, which was left with a big crater as a result of the plane's impact. But officials say they expect to reopen on March 21.

FlyDubai's chief executive, Ghaith al-Ghaith said on March 20 that the airline would resume flights into the city once the airport opens.

He also said the downed plane had enough fuel, even though it had been circling for a prolonged period. He defended the decision to try to land, noting that the airport had remained open.

But according to the dpa news agency, while the FlyDubai fight circled over Rostov-on-Don two other planes - one belonging to Russia's Aeroflot and another to Czech Airlines - were diverted to the airport in Krasnodar some 250 kilometers away.

Based on reporting by AFP, TASS, and dpa