Three Britons are among the 176 people who died when a Ukrainian Boeing 737-800 crashed shortly after take off from Iran’s main international airport, officials in Kiev have said.
Ukrainian PM Oleksiy Honcharuk said there were 167 passengers and nine crew members on the Ukraine International Airlines flight to Kiev.
Ukraine’s foreign minister Vadym Prystaiko said 82 Iranians and 63 Canadians were on board. The airline said most passengers were in transit and due to connect to other flights on arrival.
The country’s national security council said 11 Ukrainian citizens, including nine crew members, died in the crash and that special aircraft were on standby to fly to Iran to bring back their bodies.
Iranian state television said there were no survivors and Flight PS 752 came down due to what it described as “technical problems” after leaving Imam Khomeini airport in Tehran.
Image: All 176 people on board the plane died when it crashed after take-off in Tehran, officials said
Ukraine International Airlines said it is doing everything possible to find out the cause of the crash and that it has suspended all flights to Tehran “indefinitely”.
The airline said the plane had passed its last technical check on January 6 and that there was nothing wrong with it.
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Image: The plane had a technical check on January 6
The Ukrainian embassy in Tehran said engine failure was the cause.
Iran’s state-run news agency IRNA reported that the pilot lost control when a fire broke out in one of the engines – quoting Qassem Biniaz, a spokesman for Iran’s road and transport ministry.
The plane’s black box has been recovered by Iranian rescue workers, Iran’s state broadcaster IRIB reported.
Footage showed the wreckage of the plane and smouldering engine parts strewn across a field as rescue workers with face masks recovered bodies of the victims.
Image: The plane had only just taken off
An investigation team is at the site of the crash on farmland in the southwestern outskirts of Tehran, civil aviation spokesman Reza Jafarzadeh said.
Image: An investigation has been launched into the cause of the crash. Pic: Iranian Red Crescent
Pirhossein Koulivand, head of Iran’s emergency services, told state television the plane was on fire when emergency services first arrived at the crash scene.
“The fire is so heavy that we cannot (do) any rescue… we have 22 ambulances, four bus ambulances and a helicopter at the site,” he said.
Dmytro Razumkov, Ukraine’s parliament speaker, said in a statement on Facebook: “Our task is to establish the cause of the crash of the Boeing and provide all necessary help to the families of the victims.”
Image: Rescue crews said they could not save anyone Pic: Iranian Red Crescent
Its president Volodymyr Zelensky, on an official visit in Oman, offered his condolences to the relatives of those killed and cut short the trip to return to the Ukrainian capital.
Image: The plane is believed to be a Ukrainian International Airlines Boeing 737-800. File pic
Flight data from the airport showed a three-year-old Boeing 737-800 NG took off on Wednesday morning, then stopped sending data almost immediately afterwards, according to website FlightRadar24.
A Boeing spokesman said it was aware of reports of a plane crash in Iran and was gathering more information.
The crash came hours after Iran launched a ballistic missile attack targeting two bases in Iraq housing US and coalition forces in retaliation for the killing of Revolutionary Guard General Qassem Soleimani.
Meanwhile, commercial airlines have begun rerouting flights crossing the Middle East to avoid possible danger amid the escalating tensions.
Australian carrier Qantas said it was altering its London to Perth routes to avoid Iran and Iraq airspace until further notice.
Source : Sky News