KABUL: A Kiev-bound Ukrainian passenger plane crashed on Wednesday in Iran shortly after taking off, killing all 176 people onboard including 4 Afghans.
The Ukrainian Boeing-737 flight PS752 heading to Kyiv went down after taking off from Imam Khomeini airport in Tehran and the majority of passengers were from Iran and Canada. The wreckage was found between two small towns near capital Tehran, according to an Iranian civil aviation spokesperson said.
Although Iranian media quickly suggested technical problems to have been the cause, but Iranian embassy in Ukraine later ruled it out saying it could not assign cause to engine failure prior to an official investigation.
The plane took off early in the morning, but lost contact two minutes later. The pilot did not send any distress signal back to the control tower, according to Iranian media.
Rescue workers searched the debris from the plane just 10km from the airport, with officials ruling out the chance of finding any survivors. The crash immediately was followed by a series of airlines avoiding both Iranian and Iraqi airspace.
The crash left all passengers dead including four Afghans, 82 Iranians, 63 Canadians, 11 Ukrainians including all nine crew, 10 Swedes, three Britons and three Germans, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko said.
However, Iran’s head of emergency operations said 147 of the victims were Iranian, which suggests that 65 of the foreign nationals had dual nationalities.
The crash came just a few hours after Iran fired a barrage of ballistic missiles on two US bases in Iraq purportedly killing 80 American soldiers. This amid a deteriorating tension between Washington and Tehran over the killing
Ukraine International Airlines has never had a fatal crash before. The airlines has suspended flights to Tehran indefinitely. The airline said that the Boeing 737-800 was built in 2016 and had its last scheduled maintenance on Monday. There was no sign of any problems with the plane before take-off and the airline’s president said it had a reliable crew.