Aviation

Passenger plane crashes in Iran, killing 176 people

Christian Fleetwood

Christian Fleetwood

A Boeing 737 aircraft has crashed shortly after take-off in Iran, killing all 167 passengers and nine crew members on board.

The Ukraine International Airlines (UIA) aircraft carrying 176 people crashed on a routine flight from Iran to Ukraine, after bursting into flames shortly after take-off on Wednesday (local time).

Travelling on the flight were 82 Iranians, 63 Canadians, 11 Ukrainians, 10 Swedes, four Afghans, three Germans and three Brits, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine said.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine expresses its heartfelt condolences to the families and loved ones of all who have died as a result of the fatal crash of Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752,” it said.

“Ukraine stands ready to support the investigation in any way that it can in accordance with international law and, in particular, the Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation.”

According to Iran Road and Transportation Ministry spokesman Qassem Biniaz, the aircraft burst into flames after a fire struck one of its engines.

Speaking to Iran’s IRNA news agency, Biniaz said the pilot lost control of the plane, sending it crashing into farmland near Shahedshahr on the outskirts of Tehran, as reported by ABC News.

Hassan Razaeifar, the head of Iran’s air crash investigation committee, reportedly said it appeared the pilot could not communicate with air-traffic controllers in the last moments of the flight.

The crash came just hours after Iran launched a missile strike targeting two Iraqi military bases housing United States forces, which came in retaliation for the killing of one of Iran’s top generals, Qassem Soleimani, last week.

Ukrainian Foreign Ministry official Maksym Kovalenko has stressed the official cause of the crash is unclear, with no hypotheses at this stage.

“A commission has been specially created and is working in the field … Ukrainian representatives from our embassy are in the field and are liaising with local emergency services,” Kovalenko told reporters.

According to website FlightRadar24, the plane stopped sending data almost immediately after take-off, following a take-off delay of almost an hour. The aircraft then took off to the west, but reportedly never made it above 8,000 feet in the air.

Pirhossein Koulivand, head of Iran’s emergency services, said rescuers were trying to recover the bodies from the crash site, but later said on state television, as reported by ABC News:

“The fire is so heavy that we cannot [do] any rescue … we have 22 ambulances, four bus ambulances and a helicopter at the site.”

Ukraine International Airlines says aircraft was one of the best in fleet, suspends all flights into Tehran following fatal crash

In an online statement, UIA said Wednesday, 8 January – the day of the crash – is “marked with black”.

“Today, all our thoughts and prayers are with the passengers and crew of PS752 Tehran – Kyiv flight,” the airline said.

“We express profound sympathy to the families and friends of the victims. We share your pain, we mourn together with you, and we remember everyone whose life was taken away in the sky of Iran.

“We’ll make every effort to find out the cause of the tragedy and the families of the passengers and crew get all the help and support they need.”

The airline’s president Yevhen Dykhne, said at a briefing following the crash that the aircraft was one of the best in UIA’s fleet, as reported by ABC News.

“It was one of the best planes we had, with an amazing, reliable crew,” Dykhne said.

UIA has indefinitely suspended flights between Kyiv and Tehran following the crash.

The aircraft’s manufacturer, Boeing, said it stands ready to assist in any way needed.

“This is a tragic event and our heartfelt thoughts are with the crew, passengers, and their families,” Boeing tweeted. “We are in contact with our airline customer and stand by them in this difficult time.”

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