By Kat Storr, news reporter
Two of the Britons killed after a Boeing 737 crashed in Tehran were an engineer and a BP employee who was on holiday.
The passenger jet crashed just minutes after taking off from the Iranian capital’s main airport, killing all 176 people on board, including three British citizens.
The crash came hours after Iran launched a ballistic missile attack on Iraqi bases housing US soldiers, but both Ukrainian and Iranian officials said they suspected a mechanical issue brought down the Boeing 737-800 aircraft.
Saeed Tahmasebi worked as an engineer for Laing O’Rouke.
A spokesperson for the company said: “Everyone here is shocked and saddened by this very tragic news.
“Saeed was a popular and well respected engineer and will be missed by many of his colleagues. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this most difficult time and we will do all we can to support them through it.”
Sam Zokaei, 42, worked for BP as a senior reservoir engineer but was on holiday.
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A BP statement said: “With the deepest regret, we can confirm that one of our colleagues at BP, Sam Zokaei, was a passenger on the Ukrainian International Airlines plane that crashed in Iran this morning, reportedly with no survivors.
“We are shocked and deeply saddened by this tragic loss of our friend and colleague and all of our thoughts are with his family and friends.”
Image: The plane had only just taken off
Ukraine’s foreign minister Vadym Prystaiko said 82 Iranians, 63 Canadians and 11 Ukrainians, including nine crew, were on board.
There were also 10 people from Sweden, four passengers from Afghanistan and three from Germany.
The airline said most passengers were in transit and due to connect to other flights on arrival.
Iranian state television said flight PS752 came down due to what it described as “technical problems” after leaving Imam Khomeini airport.
A Ukrainian airliner with at least 170 people on board crashed due to technical problems soon after taking off from Tehran
The plane’s black box has been recovered but the head of Tehran’s civil aviation organisation said it will not be giving it to aircraft manufacturer Boeing.
Ali Abedzadeh said it was not clear which country Iran would send the box to so that its data could be analysed, the semi-official Mehr news agency in Iran 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: A child’s book was among the wreckage
The Ukrainian embassy in Tehran originally said engine failure was the cause but a later statement omitted any mention of this.
It said in a second statement that the causes had not been disclosed and that any previous comments were not official.
Asked at a briefing in Kiev if the plane could have been downed by a missile, Mr Honcharuk cautioned against speculation until the results of an investigation were known.
Image: President of Ukraine International Airlines Yevgen Dykhne at a news conference
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he had instructed criminal proceedings to be opened over the crash and that the country will test the airworthiness of its entire civilian fleet.
In a statement he added: “I keep all measures on personal control. I very much ask everyone to refrain from speculation and putting forward untested versions of the disaster before the official announcements.”
Ukraine International Airlines said it had indefinitely suspended flights to Tehran after the crash.
“It was one of the best planes we had, with an amazing, reliable crew,” said Yevhen Dykhne, president of Ukraine International Airlines.
A number of 737-800 aircraft have been involved in deadly accidents in recent years.
In March 2016, a FlyDubai 737-800 from Dubai crashed while trying to land at Rostov-on-Don airport in Russia, killing 62.
Another 737-800 flight from Dubai, operated by Air India Express, crashed in May 2010 while trying to land in Mangalore, India, killing more than 150 people.
Chicago-based Boeing said it was “aware of the media reports out of Iran and we are gathering more information”.
Source : Sky News