A Ukrainian Boeing 737-800 aircraft carrying 167 people has crashed just after take-off from Imam Khomeini Airport, in the Iranian capital of Tehran.
The Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752 was bound for the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv.
According to a tweet from Ukrainian foreign minister Vadym Prystaiko, 82 Iranians, 63 Canadians, 11 Ukrainians, 10 Swedes, 4 Afghans, 3 Germans, and 3 British nationals died onboard.
We are following reports that a Ukrainian 737-800 has crashed shortly after takeoff from Tehran. #PS752 departed Tehran at 02:42UTC. Last ADS-B data received at 02:44UTC. https://t.co/qXWHUPGDTu pic.twitter.com/vuAi6TOqTp
— Flightradar24 (@flightradar24) 8 January 2020
The plane crashed in the Tehran suburb of Parand, which is to the immediate northwest of the airport and comes just hours after Iran launched a missile strike on air bases in Iraq where US and Coalition troops are stationed.
The US Federal Aviation Administration had announced a ban on American civilian planes flying over Iran, Iraq and the Persian Gulf shortly before the incident.
Originally the crash was suspected to have been caused by mechanical issues with no evidence of foul play. But as the story unfolds, though the evidence remains sketchy, aviation experts have speculated that the plane could have been attacked, as tensions run high in the region.
The captain of the crashed plane has been identified as Volodymyr Gaponenko, an experienced pilot with 11,600 hours flying on Boeing 737 aircraft under his belt. The instructor pilot was Oleksiy Naumkin, also experienced with 12,000 hours on the aircraft. Ukraine International Airlines president, Yevhenii Dykhne, said, “It is impossible that there were mistakes by the crew.”
The Iranian Students’ News Agency, a state-run media organization, shared a video, of what is claimed to be an aircraft, apparently in flames, descending in the distance before a bright burst filled the sky upon impact.
Photos and videos from the crash site showed rescuers in a field littered with plane debris, smoldering fires and the belongings of passengers.
“Our priority is to establish the truth and those responsible for this terrible catastrophe.”
Volodymyr Zelenskiy, Ukrainian President
Under global aviation rules, Iran has the right to lead the investigation, but manufacturers are typically involved and experts say few countries are capable of analysing black boxes.
In comments published by Iran’s conservative Mehr news agency, the head of Iran’s Civil Aviation Organisation (CAO), Ali Abedzadeh, said: “We will not give the black box to the manufacturer and the Americans.”
“This accident will be investigated by Iran’s aviation organisation, but the Ukrainians can also be present during the incident’s investigation.”
If Iranian officials continue to withhold data, “they’re not going to be trusted in our eyes and whatever they say without giving us the data, we’re not going to believe,” said John Goglia, former member of the U.S. National Transportion Safety Board.
We will continue to keep you updated on the situation.
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