TEHRAN (AFP) – A Ukrainian airliner carrying 176 people from seven countries crashed shortly after takeoff from Tehran yesterday, killing all on board.
The vast majority of the passengers on the Boeing 737 flight from Tehran to Kiev were non-Ukrainians, including 82 Iranians and 63 Canadians, officials said.
The crash occurred with tensions high in the Middle East but there was no immediate indication of foul play and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned against “speculating” on the cause of the disaster.
The US aviation authority said it had banned US-registered carriers from flying over Iraq, Iran and the Gulf, and airlines including Lufthansa and Air France said they were suspending flights through Iraqi and Iranian airspace.
Footage released by Iranian state media showed a field on fire and the smoking wreckage of the crash. Rescue workers carried body bags and the passengers’ personal items – including cases, clothes, a doll and a boxing glove – were lying amidst the debris.
Ukraine International Airlines (UIA), the ex-Soviet country’s privately owned flagship carrier, said flight PS752 took off from Tehran airport at 6.10am and disappeared from radars just two minutes later.
It slammed into farmland at Khalaj Abad, in Shahriar county, about 45 kilometres northwest of the airport, according to reports on Iranian state media.
Officials in both Iran and Ukraine said there was no hope of anyone having survived.
As well as the Iranians and Canadians, the passengers included 10 Swedes, four Afghans, three Germans and three Britons, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister said. Eleven Ukrainians – including the nine crew – were also on board.
Canada is home to a large Iranian diaspora community and UIA offers discount flights between Tehran and Toronto, with a transit in Kiev.
Officials in Tehran said 15 children were among the passengers. The semi-official news agency ISNA said 13 were students from Tehran’s Sharif University, the most prestigious in the country.