A Ukrainian airplane carrying at least 170 people crashed on Wednesday shortly after takeoff from Tehran’s main airport, killing all aboard, state TV reported.
The plane had taken off from Imam Khomeini International Airport in the Iranian capital. The crash is suspected to have been caused by mechanical issues, the TV reported, without elaborating.
An investigation team was at the site of the crash in southwestern outskirts of Tehran, civil aviation spokesman Reza Jafarzadeh said.
“After taking off from Imam Khomeini International Airport, it crashed between Parand and Shahriar,” Jafarzadeh said. “An investigation team from the national aviation department was dispatched to the location after the news was announced.”
Pir Hossein Kulivand, an Iranian emergency official, later told state TV all those on board were killed in the crash. He said rescuers were trying to collect the dead.
State TV earlier said there were 180 passengers and crew aboard. The discrepancy could not be immediately reconciled.
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Flight data from the airport showed a Ukrainian 737-800 flown by Ukraine International Airlines took off Wednesday morning, then stopped sending data almost immediately, according to website FlightRadar24. The airline did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Associated Press journalists who reached the crash site saw a wide field of debris scattered across farmland. The dead lay among shattered pieces of the aircraft. Rescuers in masks shouted over the noise of hovering helicopters as they worked.
The crash came hours after Iran launched a ballistic missile attack targeting two bases in Iraq housing U.S. forces in retaliation for the killing of Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani.
The Boeing 737-800 is a very common single-aisle, twin-engine jetliner used for short to medium-range flights. Thousands of the 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 deadly accidents over the years.