A Boeing 737 of the Ukrainian company International Airlines crashed just after takeoff, in Iran. There are no survivors.
A Ukrainian airliner carrying 176 people, mainly Iranians and Canadians, crashed Wednesday 8th January 2020 in Iran shortly after taking off from Tehran, killing all who were on board, announced the Iranian and Ukrainian authorities.
The Boeing 737 of Ukraine International Airlines (UIA) crashed while the Middle East through a serious period of tension and shortly after the shooting missiles by Tehran to US troops in Iraq. But there was nothing to indicate that these events were linked and Ukrainian President Zelensky warned of any “speculation”.
82 Iraniens et 63 Canadiens se trouvaient à bord du Boeing ukrainien qui s’est écrasé en Iran mercredi matin, a indiqué le chef de la diplomatie ukrainienne Vadym Prystaïko #AFP pic.twitter.com/ohZ4Woj8zm
— Agence France-Presse (@afpfr) 8 January 2020
Unlikely to find survivors
Iranian state television has broadcast images of the crash site , where rescuers are seen rummaging through a vacant lot of scattered debris, some still smoking. Several teams of rescuers carry bags containing bodies, others collecting personal belongings of passengers.
UIA flight PS752 took off at 06:10 (02:40 GMT) from Imam Khomeini Airport in Tehran towards Boryspyl Airport in Kiev , before disappearing from radars a few minutes later.
It crashed on farmland in Khalaj Abad in Shahriar district, about 45 km northwest of the airport, according to Iranian state media. Ukrainian and Iranian officials have ruled out any chance of finding survivors.
Children and students on board
According to Ukrainian diplomacy, were on board the Boeing 82 Iranians, 63 Canadians, 10 Swedes, four Afghans, three Germans and three British. Eleven others were Ukrainian, including the nine crew members.
Canada is home to a large Iranian diaspora and UIA offers relatively inexpensive flights between Toronto and Tehran, with stops in Kiev.
Quoted by the semi-official news agency Isna, the deputy governor of Tehran province, Mohammad Taghizadeh said that 15 children were on the plane. Thirteen other passengers were students of Sharif University in Tehran, one of the most prestigious in the country, according to Isna.
UIA, which has suspended flights to Tehran, said in a statement that the Boeing 737 was built in 2016 and passed a technical check two days ago.
“It was one of our best planes with an excellent and very safe crew,” company president Ievguen Dykhne said with tears at a press conference in Kiev.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who has interrupted his vacation in the Sultanate of Oman to return to Ukraine, has ordered the opening of an investigation and announced the inspection of the “entire Ukrainian civil air fleet”, regardless of the cause of the crash.
“Refrain from speculation”
“I really ask everyone to refrain from speculation and unverified versions of the disaster,” Zelensky wrote on Facebook.
The Ukrainian embassy in Iran had previously implicated ” a failure of an engine of the device due to technical reasons “, saying to exclude “the thesis of a terrorist attack”, before removing this passage from its press release.
Amateur images released by Iranian state media show the flaming plane losing altitude at night and then exploding on the impact on the ground. An aviation expert and professor at the University of Tempere in Finland, Stephen Wright, said AFP had doubts that the plane was shot down.
“There is a lot of speculation currently saying that he was shot, I think that will not turn out to be the case at all.”
“The plane was climbing (…) in the right direction, which means that something catastrophic happened”, he observed, referring to “a bomb or a catastrophic failure”.
Boeing, already affected by the scandal around its 737 MAX grounded for 10 months, said on Twitter to be “aware of press reports coming from Iran” and “to gather more information”.
The two black boxes were found, said the Iranian civil aviation authority. ” The probability of a crew error is minimal, ” said UIA vice president Igor Sosnovsky, saying he did not “consider” it.
The crash came shortly after Iran fired 22 missiles in the night from Tuesday to Wednesday on bases in Iraq used by American soldiers to avenge the death of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani.
Following the missile fire, many airlines including Air France and Lufthansa have announced that they will suspend their flights over Iraq and Iran. The federal agency of the American aviation (FAA) prohibited on Tuesday evening to the American civil planes the overflight of the two countries and the Gulf.