DUBAI // Friends of the victims of the FlyDubai flight FZ981 plane crash in Rostov-on-Don have spoken of their loss.
Pambos Themistocleous had been a friend of the flight’s captain, Cypriot Aristos Sokratous, for more than 12 years.
He said Sokratous was someone who “knew how to spread happiness around him”.
“I met him through motorcycling and we had a mutual respect,” he said.
“He was always a talented rider and had a deep knowledge of anything mechanical. He was one of the best dragster riders in Cyprus and he was competing in Greece, as well.”
Sokratous, 38, was always respectful towards his friends, said Mr Themistocleous, who lives in Limassol.
“Personally, I never saw him angry or sad. I will always remember his friendly smile and his good manners. He was a really nice person,” he said.
A flight attendant who knew five crew members on FZ981 said she was shocked when she heard about the crash.
“They were acquaintances and I used to work with them,” she said. “They were not all Russian, it was a mix of nationalities. It touched all Russians because so many innocent people are dead and we still can’t believe this.”
Tatsiana Prykhodzka, from Belarus, shared a flat with Anna Serhieieva, 25, a Ukrainian passenger who worked at the Enigma beauty salon on Al Wasl Road in Dubai.
“During the whole time that I knew her, I found her to be a positive person,” she said. “Honestly, she was very smart and always alive. She adored the sun, the beach and life.
“For me, it is not easy to talk about her without tears. We just have to pray to God and support her mum as we can,” said Ms Prykhodzka.
Serhieieva, 25, was the breadwinner in her family.
“That’s why she used to work hard,” said her friend Yana Rud, who dropped her at the airport before the flight.
“Anna’s younger brother was ill from a young age, so her mother couldn’t work. She wanted to treat her brother. I have spoken to her mother, she is now very weak because of the tragedy and she couldn’t find the words to say how she feels. It’s the worst that can happen to a parent.”
She said Serhieieva loved life. “She was a very nice person and became friends with everyone she met,” Ms Rud said. “She was always smiling and never carried anything bad in her heart.”
She said it was Serhieieva’s wish was to get married and have children. “She was single and kept wondering when she would meet the right person,” she said.
“When I dropped her off, she told me that she loved to fly and couldn’t wait to get on board. She is an angel who will live in our hearts forever.”
Salim Haber, a Lebanese contractor who has been in Dubai for six years, met Serhieieva last year.
“She was a happy person,” he said. “She would go out a lot, she was a fun person but I did not know she was going to Russia.”
He said he had tried to meet up with her over the past two to three weeks but she was very busy. “I told her to take care of herself and be happy,” Mr Haber said. “When I met her, she was very sweet and outgoing. I found out through Facebook about the news and I was really shocked – she was a very nice girl.”
Tributes flowed on social media following the crash. On Facebook’s A Fly Guy’s Crew Lounge, a Filipino flight attendant with FlyDubai said he had flown with Sokratous.
“He was so nice and very polite,” he said. “Rest in peace Paradise, captain.”
Another FlyDubai cabin crew member said the day of the crash was the toughest in her 10 years in the aviation industry.
“Putting my uniform on to go for a flight with tears running down my face and red eyes was tough,” she said. “But our airline needed us and I put on a brave face. Sad, sad day.”