Iran crash: Ukraine Boeing with 176 onboard comes down near Tehran | World news | The Guardian8 Gennaio 2020
Iranians, Canadians, Ukrainians, Swedes, Afghans, Germans and three Britons killed in crash, reports say
A passenger plane bound for the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, has crashed a few minutes after taking off from Tehran’s main international airport, killing 176 people.
Iran’s Red Crescent has said there was no chance of finding survivors, and Pir Hossein Kulivand, an Iranian emergency official, later told state TV all those on board were killed in the crash.
Victims of the crash included 82 Iranians, 63 Canadians, 11 Ukrainians, 10 Swedes, four Afghans, three Germans and three Britons, according to Ukraine’s foreign minister, Vadym Prystaiko. “We express our condolences. The Ukrainian authorities continue to investigate,” Prystaiko said.
Airline officials said most of the passengers were en route to the Ukrainian capital, transiting through there to other destinations.
“The plane crashed five minutes after taking off,” said civil aviation spokesman Reza Jafarzadeh. “The pilot had no contact with the tower and didn’t announce an emergency situation before the crash.”
The Boeing 737-800 operated by Ukrainian International Airlines took off from Imam Khomeini international airport at 6.12am Tehran time on Wednesday, after being delayed by almost an hour. It took off to the west, but never made it above 8,000 ft and went down about 10 minutes later, according to flight-tracking websites.
There were no early indications the crash was linked to Wednesday morning’s missile strikes on bases in Iraq hosting US and coalition troops. Both Ukrainian and Iranian officials said they suspected a mechanical issue had brought down the plane.
A video purportedly of the crash circulated by Isna showed the aircraft burning as it fell from the sky.
Boeing released a brief statement saying it was aware of the media reports about the disaster and was gathering more information.
The 737-800 belongs to the same family as, but is different to, the 737 Max 8 aircraft, which has been grounded since two fatal crashes occurred within six months in Indonesia and Ethiopia. The 737-800 operates with a different software system to the one implicated in the Max 8 crashes.
Yevheniy Dykhne, president of Ukraine International Airlines, said it was “one of the best planes we had, with an amazing, reliable crew”. The plane was less than four years old. Nine of the Ukrainians on board were crew. Ukraine International Airlines has indefinitely suspended flights to Tehran.
An investigation team was now at the site of the crash on the south-western outskirts of Tehran, Jafarzadeh said. “After taking off from Imam Khomeini international airport, it crashed between Parand and Shahriar.” Jafarzadeh said.
Qassem Biniaz, a spokesman for Iran’s road and transportation ministry, told the state-run Irna news agency that it appeared the pilot had lost control after a fire struck one of the plane’s engines.
Hassan Rezaeifar, the head of air crash investigation committee, said it appeared the pilot couldn’t communicate with air-traffic controllers in Tehran in the last moments of the flight. He did not provide further details.
Ukrainian authorities have offered to help with the investigation. “Our task is to establish the cause of the crash of the Boeing and provide all necessary help to the families of the victims,” Ukraine’s parliament speaker, Dmytro Razumkov, said in a statement on Facebook.
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy cut short a visit to Oman and offered his condolences to those affected.
Journalists from Associated Press, who reached the crash site on Wednesday morning, described farmland covered with debris. The dead laying among shattered pieces of the aircraft. Their possessions, a child’s electric toothbrush, a stuffed animal, luggage and electronics, stretched everywhere.
The only thing that the pilot managed to do was steer the plane towards a soccer field near here instead of a residential area back there, witness Aref Geravand told AP. “It crashed near the field and in a water canal.”
Boeing, like other airline manufacturers, typically assists in crash investigations. However, that effort in this case could be affected by the US sanctions campaign in place since Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers in May 2018.
The US’s largest manufacturing exporter has struggled to regain public trust after its 737 Max plane was involved in the two crashes that killed 346 people.
The company has faced intense scrutiny, including allegations that it was aware of problems with a new automatic flight control feature on the 737 Max, which investigators believe is likely to have been the cause of the crashes.
Last month, the company fired its chief executive, Dennis Muilenburg, who had been widely criticised by families and regulators for his handling of the crisis. Muilenburg was accused of a lack of sensitivity and respect towards bereaved families, as well appearing to mislead the aviation regulator.
Several 737-800 aircraft have been involved in deadly accidents. In March 2016, a FlyDubai 737-800 from Dubai crashed while trying to land at Rostov-on-Don airport in Russia, killing 62 onboard. 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 onboard.
Reuters and Associated Press contributed to this report