Plane crashes in Iran, killing all 65 aboard
An Iranian commercial air plane, brought back into service only months ago after being grounded for seven years, crashed on Sunday in a foggy, mountainous region of southern Iran, and officials said they feared all 65 people on board were killed.
The crash of the Aseman Airlines ATR-72 marks yet another fatal aviation disaster for Iran, which for years was barred from buying airplane parts for needed maintenance due to Western sanctions over its contested nuclear programme.
Its nuclear accord with world powers allows it to get those parts and the country has made deals worth tens of billions of dollars for new aircraft. However, United States President Donald Trump’s refusal to recertify the deal has injected uncertainty into those sales while Iranians still fly in ageing aircraft.
The ATR-72, a twin-engine turboprop used for short-distance regional flying, went down near its destination of the southern Iranian city of Yasuj, some 780 kilometres (485 miles) south of the Iranian capital, Tehran, where it took off.
It wasn’t immediately clear what caused the crash, although weather was severe in the area. Dense fog, high winds and heavy snow in the Zagros Mountains made it impossible for rescue crews in helicopters to reach the site on Sunday, the Iranian state television reported.
Aseman Airlines spokesman Mohammad Taghi Tabatabai told the state TV that all on board Flight No EP3704 were killed. Those on board included 59 passengers and six crew members, the state-run IRNA news agency reported Sunday night, lowering the death to 65 from an initially reported 66.
“After searching the area, we learned that unfortunately … our dear passengers had lost their lives,” Tabatabai said.
Both Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani offered their condolences.
Tabatabai said the plane crashed into Mount Dena, which is about 4,400 metres (14,435 feet) tall. The plane’s last signal, at 0555 GMT, showed it at 16,975 feet and descending, according to airplane-tracking website FlightRadar24.
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