176 people dead after passenger plane crashes in Iran
The 167 passengers and nine crew members of a Ukraine International Airlines flight have been killed after crashing to the ground shortly after take-off early this morning (06:12 local time / 02:42 GMT), the BBC has reported.
Iranian news stations confirmed that the Boeing 737 plane - carrying passengers from eight different countries - crashed to the ground two minutes after it had taken off from Imam Khomeini Airport in Iran.
Check out a report on the crash below:
According to Ukrainian news-site Obozrevatel, three British nationals, 73 Canadian citizens, 71 Iranians, six Afghans, eight Swedes, and four Germans were killed in the crash.
Pirhossein Koulivand, the head of Iran’s Emergency Medical Services, has said that teams were deployed to the scene - located between the cities of Parand and Shahriar, both in the Tehran province - immediately after the crash was reported, but were unable to assist due to the area being on fire.
Images have been taken from the crash site, showing debris, books, and children's toys strewn among the wreckage.
Per the Ukraine Foreign Ministry's website, they say: "According to preliminary information, the plane crashed as a result of an engine failure for technical reasons. Currently, the version of a terrorist attack is ruled out."
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky has also said in a statement that he will be cutting short a trip to Oman and flying back to Kyiv. He warned against "speculation or unchecked theories regarding the catastrophe" until official reports were ready.
Zelensky added: "My sincere condolences to the relatives and friends of all passengers and crew."
Ukraine International Airlines has since suspended all flights to Tehran indefinitely, and added that the fallen aircraft had received its last scheduled maintenance check on Monday.
Aviation safety analyst Todd Curtis told the BBC:
"The airplane was heavily fragmented which means either there was an intense impact on the ground or something happened in the sky.
"From all appearances this was an airplane that had been properly cared for and there were no outstanding issues with respect to European authorities or American authorities so at this point there is nothing that points to a particular cause.
"They will start putting together the story of what happened on that airplane... to see if there is something about the condition of the aircraft or the fuel on board that might have led to this.
"And also one cannot discount the possibility that something outside the aircraft, a mid-air collision or some other issue, may have been involved."
Mr Curtis also revealed that Iranian, Ukrainian, US, and French authorities would all be involved in the investigation - which is sure to raise tensions due to the ongoing conflict between the US and Iran.