ABU DHABI // The UAE’s Rulers offered condolences to the families of the FZ981 crash victims and to the Russian president, Vladimir Putin on Saturday.
President Sheikh Khalifa expressed his sympathy to Mr Putin, the Russian people and the families of the victims, state news agency Wam reported.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, and Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, also sent messages to Moscow.
The Vice President used Twitter to offer his condolences in both English and Russian.
“We mourn those lost, may their souls rest in peace,” Sheikh Mohammed wrote. “Our thoughts are with their loved ones at this time of sorrow and grief.”
In another post, he said: “I offer my condolences to the families of the passengers who lost their lives on board flight FZ981. This terrible tragedy grieves us all.”
Alexander Efimov, the Russian ambassador to the UAE, said that the investigation into the Rostov-on-Don crash would be “absolutely transparent”.
“For the moment, the most probable reason is terrible weather conditions with very strong wind and rain,” Mr Efimov said.
“We should not make any conclusion before the investigation but what we know is that the weather conditions were awful, and some other planes did not dare to make a landing and they landed in other airports in other cities.”
Aleksander Zarkeshev, rector of the Russian Orthodox Church Archimandrite in Sharjah, held a service for the victims. A memorial will be held at 10am today.
Services will also be held on the third day, ninth and 40th day after the crash.
Mr Efimov said that his embassy was working with authorities in Dubai and Rostov-on-Don.
“Our general consulate in Dubai is in constant touch with the Russian authorities from the beginning and with the Emirati authorities and FlyDubai and Ministry of Transport in Russia, and all the others concerned,” he said.
“Some relatives who are in Dubai, all of whom are eager to get to Rostov-on-Don, will be taken there free of charge by FlyDubai.”
France expressed its solidarity with the UAE and Russia.
“France expresses condolences and extends solace to the UAE’s people and leadership, as well to the Russian people and leadership on this tragic accident,” its ministry of foreign affairs and international development said.
The UK’s minister for Europe, David Lidington, said: “I was saddened to learn about the loss of so many lives in the plane crash in Rostov-on-Don. I extend my deepest condolences to the families and friends of all those killed.
“The UK stands ready to provide any necessary assistance to the Russian authorities.”
Barbara Leaf, US ambassador to the UAE, tweeted: “Our condolences on the loss of FlyDubai 981. Our thoughts are with those who lost family or friends.”
* Additional reporting by Anam Rizvi