Ukrainian Airlines Boeing 737 with 170 aboard crashes in Tehran hours after Iran’s attack on US bases
Ukrainian International Airlines flight PS752 carrying 170 people crashed near Tehran Wednesday morning All on board the plane heading for Kiev died according to state media The airliner, said to be a Boeing 737, went down around Parand 60 kilometres south-west of the Iranian city Imam Khomeini International Airport, told Fars News Agency the plane suffered technical problems However, flight data shows the three-year-old Boeing 737-800 reached an altitude of 2.4 km and then suddenly disappeared three minutes after take-off in Tehran Video appeared to show the first footage of a Ukrainian flight plane falling and fire from the scene 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 A Ukrainian passenger plane bound for Kiev and carrying 170 passengers and crew has crashed near Tehran just three minutes after takeoff, but there has been speculation it was shot down after unverified video appeared to show the aircraft in flames before it fell. Ali Kashani, spokesman for Imam Khomeini International Airport, told Fars news agency the plane ‘crashed around Parand’, about 60 kilometres south-west of the Iranian city and said: ‘It is predicted that technical problems caused the accident.’ However, flight data shows the three-year-old Boeing 737-800 for Ukrainian International Airlines flight PS752 reached an altitude of 2.4 km and then suddenly disappeared. All on board dead according to state media. Unverified video footage tweeted by the BBC’s Iran correspondent, Ali Hashem, appeared to show the plane burning in the sky before crashing in a huge explosion. A photo later published by Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency showed rescue officials in a farm field, with what appeared to be pieces of the aircraft laying nearby. IRNA had estimated 180 on board. Flight information shows the plane taking off at 2.44am UTC (6.14am local time) and reaching a height of 7,925ft before the data abruptly ends. An investigation team was at the site of the crash in southwestern outskirts of Tehran, Iran’s civil aviation spokesman Reza Jafarzadeh told the Associated Press. ‘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.’ Images from the scene Wednesday morning indicated that it was unlikely anyone survived. There was not much of the aircraft left in tact amid the wreckage in the field where the plane crashed. ‘The plane is on fire but we have sent crews … and we may be able to save some passengers,’ Pirhossein Koulivand, head of Iran’s emergency services, told State TV. He later said: ‘The fire is so heavy that we cannot (do) any rescue… we have 22 ambulances, four bus ambulances and a helicopter at the site.’ 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. In March 2016, a Flydubai 737-800 from Dubai crashed while trying to land at Rostov-on-Don airport in Russia, killing 62 onboard. 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 onboard. Chicago-based Boeing Co. did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Boeing, like other airline manufacturers, typically assists in crash investigations. However, that effort in this case could be affected by the U.S. sanctions campaign in place on Iran since President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers in May 2018. Both Airbus and Boeing had been in line to sell billions of dollars of aircraft to Iran over the deal, which saw Tehran limit its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions. But Trump’s decision halted the sales. Under decades of international sanctions, Iran’s commercial passenger aircraft fleet has aged, with air accidents occurring regularly for domestic carriers in recent years, resulting in hundreds of casualties. 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. Trump and his advisers are under pressure to disclose more details about the intelligence that led to the U.S. strike. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani had previously made veiled threats to American airliners after tweeting a reference to the 1988 Lockerbie bombing that killed 270 people. Rouhani tweeted that America should ‘never threaten Iran’ after warning the US should ‘remember the number 290’ in reference to an incident when the US Navy accidentally shot down an Iranian passenger jet in the Persian Gulf in July 1988, killing 290. Some Middle East experts have taken this as a veiled referen7ce to the Lockerbie terrorist attack, which saw a bomb destroy Pan Am flight 103 over Scotland in December 1988 killing 270 – months after the downing of Iranian flight 655. Libya has always been blamed for the Lockerbie bombing, and one of their intelligence agents was jailed in Scotland for the terror attack. But Western spies believe Tehran played a role in the attack and executed it in revenge for the downing of the Iranian passenger jet – now Rouhani’s sinister return to the episode and threatening of consequences has fueled those suspicions.