82 Iranians, 63 Canadians Among Dead in Ukrainian 737 Crash in Iran

A Ukrainian airplane carrying 176 people crashed Wednesday (Jan 8) shortly after takeoff from Tehran’s main airport, killing all on board, Iranian state TV and officials in Ukraine reported.

The plane had taken off from Imam Khomeini International Airport in the Iranian capital 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.

The plane carried 167 passengers and nine crew members from different nations. Ukraine’s foreign minister, Vadym Prystaiko, said that there were 82 Iranians, 63 Canadians and 11 Ukrainians on board — the Ukrainian nationals included two passengers and the nine crew. There were also 10 Swedish, four Afghan, three German and three British nationals.

Iranian TV said the crash was due to technical problems but did not elaborate. Ukraine’s embassy in Iran said the plane had suffered engine failure and the crash was not caused by “terrorism”.

Ukraine International Airlines, however, said the plane was built in 2016 and checked only two days before the crash.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a Facebook post that he would cancel the rest of his current trip to Oman and would return to Kiev due to the crash. “My sincere condolences to the families and loved ones of all passengers and crew members,” Zelensky said.

Iranian media quoted an Iranian aviation official as saying the pilot of the airliner did not declare an emergency.

“The fire is so heavy that we cannot (do) any rescue… We have 22 ambulances, four bus ambulances and a helicopter at the site,” Mr Pirhossein Koulivand, head of Iran’s emergency services, told the television.

The Iranian Students’ News Agency, a state-run media organization, shared a video it said showed the predawn crash, with a distant light descending in the distance before a bright burst filled the sky upon impact.

Television footage showed debris and smouldering engine parts strewn across a field, and rescue workers with face masks retrieving bodies of the victims.

According to air tracking service FlightRadar24, the plane that crashed was Flight PS752 and was flying to Kiev.

The jet lifted off and climbed to about 7,900 feet altitude (2,408m) and travelling at about 483kmh when it stopped transmitting its position and disappeared, according to data supplied by FlightRadar24.

Other aircraft operating out of Teheran were tracked normally, said FlightRadar24 spokesman Ian Petchenik.

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