Listen

News 88.9 KNPR
Classical 89.7 KCNV

member station

NPR
Middle East

Ukrainian Jetliner Crashes Near Tehran Airport, Killing All 176 Aboard

794433291_1066370614.jpg

A Ukraine International Airlines (UIA) Boeing 737-800 on the  runway at Munich airport in 2016. The plane is similar to the one that crashed in Iran shortly after takeoff on Wednesday.
SOPA Images, LightRocket via Getty Images

A Ukraine International Airlines (UIA) Boeing 737-800 on the runway at Munich airport in 2016. The plane is similar to the one that crashed in Iran shortly after takeoff on Wednesday.

Updated at 2 a.m. ET

A Ukraine International Airlines jetliner reportedly carrying 176 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.

State television said 32 of those aboard were foreigners.

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 Wednesday 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.

The director-general of the Iran Civil Aviation Organization, Hassan Rezaeifar, said that the aircraft did not declare an emergency.

Reza Jafarzadeh, a spokesman for the body, said a team of investigators had been dispatched to the site on the southwestern outskirts of Tehran.

Support comes from

An Iranian emergency official told state TV that all those aboard the plane were killed in the crash and that rescuers were recovering remains.

The Associated Press reports that where the jetliner went down, its journalists saw a field littered with debris and that bodies were strewn among pieces of the plane. Television footage showed burning plane parts and rescue workers wearing face masks as they retrieved bodies.

"The fire is so heavy that we cannot (do) any rescue... we have 22 ambulances, four bus ambulances and a helicopter at the site," Pirhossein Koulivand, head of Iran's emergency services, told Iran state television, according to Reuters.

Initially, Iran state television reported 180 passengers and crew were aboard the airplane, but later said the figure was 170.

In a statement hours after the first reports, Ukraine Prime Minister Volodymyr Zelenskiy clarified that the plane was carrying 167 passengers and 9 crew members. He confirmed that all aboard the plane had been killed and that authorities were trying to clarify the circumstances of the crash.

"My sincere condolences to the relatives and friends of all passengers and crew," he said, according to Reuters.

The news agency quoted Zelenskiy as saying Ukraine's consul in Iran was at the crash site.

The crash came 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 occurred less than an hour after the Federal Aviation Administration prohibited U.S. civil aviation "from operating in the airspace over Iraq, Iran, and the waters of the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman."

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. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

You won’t find a paywall here. Come as often as you like — we’re not counting. You’ve found a like-minded tribe that cherishes what a free press stands for.  If you can spend another couple of minutes making a pledge of as little as $5, you’ll feel like a superhero defending democracy for less than the cost of a month of Netflix.