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82 Iranians killed in Ukrainian plane crash in Iran

Published on January 9, 2020 at 01.01

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A Ukrainian passenger jet carrying 176 people crashed on Wednesday just minutes after taking off from the Iranian capital's main airport, turning farmland on the outskirt of Tehran into fields of flaming debris and killing all on board.

Photo: AP
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Ukraine’s national security council said on that 11 Ukrainian citizens died in the crash of an Ukrainian airliner in Iran, including nine crew members.

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Ukrainian authorities issued the flight manifest today, saying that 82 Iranians had died in the crash. Earlier, civil aviation authorities in Iran said 147 Iranians and 32 non-Iranians among the dead.

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The crash of Ukraine International Airlines 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.

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Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy extended his condolences to the families of the victims. His office said he had cut his visit to Oman short and was returning to Kyiv because of the crash. The country’s Prime Minister Oleksiy Honcharuk confirmed the casualty toll.

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The plane had been delayed from taking off from Imam Khomeini International Airport by almost an hour. It took off to the west, but never made it above 8,000 feet in the air, according to data from the flight-tracking website FlightRadar24. The airline did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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It remains unclear what happened. Qassem Biniaz, a spokesman for Iran’s Road and Transportation Ministry, said it appeared a fire struck one of its engines. 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.

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Hassan Razaeifar, 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 elaborate.

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The plane, fully loaded with fuel for its 2,300-kilometer (1,430-mile) flight, slammed into farmland near the town of Shahedshahr on the outskirts of Tehran. Videos taken immediately after the crash show blazes lighting up the darkened fields before dawn.

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Ukrainian authorities have offered to help with the investigation of the plane crash. “We’re preparing a group of specialists in order to help with the search operation and the investigation of the cause of the crash,” Honcharuk said.

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Iranian rescue workers found a black box from the crashed Ukrainian airliner on Wednesday, Iran’s state broadcaster IRIB reported.

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Ukrainian president also warned against speculation about the crash of the passenger plane.

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“I ask everyone to keep from speculating and putting forth unconfirmed theories about the crash,” he wrote on Facebook, as he cut short a vacation in Oman and flew back to Ukraine.

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The plane carried 167 passengers and nine crew members from different nations on its flight to the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, Biniaz said. The crash killed all on board, Iranian emergency officials and Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry said.

 
 
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