State television reports that all passengers of the Boeing 737 plane heading to the Ukrainian capital Kyiv were killed.
A Ukrainian airliner with 176 passengers and crew on board has crashed near Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport. Iran’s state television said all those on board, most of whom were Iranians, were killed.
According to Iranian media, the Boeing 737-800 jet crashed early on Wednesday near Parand, a suburb southwest of the capital Tehran, shortly after takeoff.
The plane had taken off from Imam Khomeini International Airport when a fire struck one of its engines, said Qassem Biniaz, a spokesman for Iran’s Road and Transportation Ministry.
The pilot then lost control of the plane, sending it crashing into the ground, Biniaz said, according to the state-run IRNA news agency.
Images posted on social media also indicated that there were no survivors. Earlier reports had said there were 180 people on board.
Journalists from The Associated Press news agency who visited the site saw debris scattered across farmlands and human remains lying among shattered pieces of the aircraft. Rescuers in masks shouted over the noise of hovering helicopters as they worked.
According to Flighradar24 flight tracker, the Ukraine International Airlines flight 752 was scheduled to take off at 5:15am (01:45 GMT), heading for the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv.
However, the departure was delayed by almost an hour as it took off at 6:12am (02:42 GMT).
A video posted by Iran’s ISNA news agency showed a faint glow of light flickering in the dark shortly before a huge fireball was seen.
Photos posted online by ISNA also showed the plane’s wreckage scattered all over the ground as emergency personnel inspected the area.
“An investigation team from the national aviation department was dispatched to the location after the news was announced. We will give more reports in upcoming bulletins,” Reza Jafarzadeh, a spokesman of the Iranian Aviation Organisation told reporters in Tehran.
Ali Abedzadeh, head of the Iran Civil Aviation Organisation, later said that Tehran will not hand over to the US the recovered black box of the plane.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy extended his condolences to the families of the victims as Prime Minister Oleksiy Honcharuk confirmed the death toll.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko said he had spoken to his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif following the crash.
“Agreed to coordinate further actions of our investigation groups closely to determine the cause of the terrible plane crash,” he tweeted.
Staff at Boryspil International Airport in Kyiv, where the flight was headed, told AP that passengers on this flight are usually Iranian students returning to Ukraine after winter holidays. Two Canadian passport holders of Iranian origin were also among the dead.
Swedish nationals also perished in the crash, according to Sweden’s Foreign Minister Ann Linde.
In a statement, Boeing said it was “aware of the media reports” of the incident, and that it was “gathering more information”.
Meanwhile, the airline president, Evgeny Dykhne said the plane that crashed was one of the company’s best planes, and had just been inspected on Monday.
Company vice president Igor Sosnovsky added that the plane had reached a height of 2,400 metres when the accident happened.
“The chances of a mistake by the crew are minimal.”
The incident comes just hours after Iran launched a retaliatory attack on two US military bases in Iraq.
The Boeing 737-800 is a common single-aisle, twin-engine jet used for short- to medium-range flights. Thousands of these planes are used by airlines around the world.
Introduced in the late 1990s, it is an older model than the Boeing 737 MAX, which has been grounded for nearly 10 months following two deadly crashes.
A number of 737-800 aircraft have been involved in accidents over the years.
In March 2016, a FlyDubai 737-800 from Dubai crashed while trying to land at Rostov-on-Don airport in Russia, killing 62 people on board. Another 737-800 flight from Dubai, operated by Air India Express, crashed in May 2010 while trying to land in Mangalore, India, killing more than 150 people on board.
In recent years, Iran has seen several plane crashes.
In early 2019, a Boeing 707 military cargo plane crashed in bad weather west of the Iranian capital, killing 15 of the 16 passengers.
In February 2018, an Iranian passenger plane with 65 people on board crashed during a flight from Tehran to Yasuj.
In 2014, an Antonov-140 plane with 48 people on board crashed shortly after the takeoff from Tehran’s Mehrabad airport, killing 39 people.