176 killed as Ukrainian airline crashes in Iran

A Ukrainian airliner with 176 passengers and crew on board has crashed near Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport early on Wednesday.

Iran’s state television said all those on board, majority of whom are Iranians, were killed.

According to the Iranian media, the Boeing 737-800 jet crashed near Parand, a suburb southwest of capital Tehran shortly after the takeoff.

The plane had taken off from Imam Khomeini International Airport when a fire struck one of its engines, said Qassem Biniaz, a spokesman for Iran’s Road and Transportation Ministry.

The pilot of the aircraft then lost control of the plane, sending it crashing into the ground, Biniaz said, according to the state-run IRNA news agency.

Images posted on social media also indicated that there were no survivors. Earlier reports said there were 180 on board the plane.

Associated Press journalists who reached the crash site saw a wide field of field of debris scattered across farmland. The dead lay among shattered pieces of the aircraft. Rescuers in masks shouted over the noise of hovering helicopters as they worked.
According to Flighradar24 flight tracker, the Ukraine International Airlines flight 752 was scheduled to take off at 5:15am Tehran time (01:45 GMT) for the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv.

However, the departure was delayed by almost an hour as it took off at 6:12am (02:42 GMT).

A video posted by Iran’s ISNA news agency showed a faint glow of light flickering in the dark shortly before a huge fireball was seen.

Photos posted online by ISNA also showed wreckage of the plane scattered all over the ground, as emergency personnel inspected the area.

“An investigation team from the national aviation department was dispatched to the location after the news was announced. We will give more reports in upcoming bulletins,” Reza Jafarzadeh, a spokesman of the Iranian Aviation Organisation told reporters in Tehran.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy extended his condolences to the families of the victims. The country’s Prime Minister Oleksiy Honcharuk confirmed the casualty toll.

Staff at the Boryspil airport in Kyiv, where the plane was headed, told The Associated Press that passengers on this flight are usually Iranian students coming back to Ukraine after winter holidays.

In a statement, Boeing said it was “aware of the media reports” of the incident, and that it was “gathering more information”.

The incident comes just hours after Iran launched a retaliatory attack on two US military bases in Iraq.

Aljazeera

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