Ukrainian Jetliner Carrying At Least 170 People Crashes Near Tehran Airport
A Ukraine International Airlines jetliner reportedly carrying at least 170 passengers and crew has crashed near Tehran's Imam Khomeini International Airport, according to Iran state television, which said all those aboard are dead. Iranian civil aviation officials said the crash is thought to have been caused by mechanical problems.
Updated at 1 a.m. ET
Flightradar24, a website that tracks commercial aviation in real time, said flight 752, a Boeing 737-800, "crashed shortly after takeoff from Tehran." The website said the jetliner departed at 6:12 a.m. local time (9:42 p.m. Tuesday ET) and was bound for Kyiv.
The plane climbed to 7,350 feet about two minutes after takeoff and then telemetry was lost, according to FlightAware data.
Initially, Iran state television reported 180 passengers and crew were aboard the airplane, but later said the figure was 170. The discrepancy was not immediately explained.
Civil aviation spokesman Reza Jafarzadeh said a team of investigators was dispatched to the crash site on the southwestern outskirts of Tehran.
"After taking off from Imam Khomeini International Airport, it crashed between Parand and Shahriar," Jafarzadeh said, according to The Associated Press.
An Iranian emergency official later told state TV that all those aboard the plane were killed in the crash and that rescuers were recovering remains.
The AP reports that its journalists, who reached the crash site, saw a field littered with debris and that bodies were strewn among pieces of the plane.
The crash comes just hours after Iran launched missiles into Iraq to retaliate against a U.S. drone strike last week that killed Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the commander of Iran's Quds Force, in Baghdad. In addition, the crash happened hours after U.S. aviation regulators called for a prohibition of U.S. aircraft flying in Iraq, Iran or surrounding airspace because of concern of retaliatory strikes by Iran.
According to aviation tracking sites, the plane is a 737-800, a common single-aisle twin-engine airliner that is in service around the world. The plane that crashed was manufactured about 3 1/2 years ago and is an earlier generation than the troubled MAX aircraft that has been grounded globally after two deadly crashes in 2018 and last year.
Boeing 737-800s have been involved in other fatal accidents over the years, including in 2016, when a FlyDubai 737-800 crashed in Russia, killing 62 people. In 2010, an Air India 737-800 crashed in southern India, killing 150 passengers and crew.
This is a developing story. Some things reported by the media will later turn out to be wrong. We will focus on reports from officials and other authorities, credible news outlets and reporters who are at the scene. We will update as the situation develops. [Copyright 2020 NPR]