Ukrainian plane crashes in Tehran killing all 176 aboard amid Iran missile strike
The delayed Boeing 737 crashed soon after take-off and it was said that the accident was caused by technical problems.
At a time when Iran has seen a violent escalation with the US in the wake of the assassination of its top military leader Qassem Soleimani in an airstrike in Baghdad on January 3, a Ukrainian passenger jet has crashed in Tehran, killing all 176 people aboard, fueling speculation.
The plane carried 167 passengers and nine crew members from different nations on its flight to the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, said Qassem Biniaz, a spokesman for Iran's Road and Transportation Ministry.
According to Iran’s local media reports, Boeing 737-800 which was headed for Kyiv' Boryspil International Airport from Iran's Imam Khomeini Airport early on Wednesday, crashed near Parand, a suburb southwest of Tehran minutes after take-off.
Local TV reports said the jet crashed around 6.22 am local time after its departure was delayed by almost an hour.
Four helicopters and 22 ambulances had been pressed into action but a heavy blaze was reportedly hampering rescue operations, it was reported.
Pirhossein Koulivand, chief of Iranian Emergency Organization, told the state-run Islamic Republic of Iran News Network that efforts were fully on to rescue survivors.
Planefinder.net, a website that tracks flights worldwide, called the ill-fated two-engine aircraft to be three years old, adding that it was delivered in July 2016.
"We are aware of the media reports out of Iran and we are gathering more information," Boeing spokesman Gordon Johndroe said in an email, Bloomberg reported.
Boeing has been facing a crisis in the wake of crashes over the last one-and-half years. The disasters that killed nearly 350 people involved the 737 Max jet which has been grounded across the world for 10 months.
The 737-800 is also among the manufacturer’s 737 narrow-body planes though the 737-800 hasn't been grounded. Boeing is still working on the flaws discovered in a flight-control system which is new to the 737 Max model. The plane that reportedly crashed near Tehran on Wednesday didn’t have the system.
Ukraine International didn’t issue any statement immediately. The Ukrainian consulate in Tehran also declined to comment, Bloomberg added.
A video posted by Iran's Iranian Students News Agency showed a faint glow of light flickering before a huge explosion was witnessed.