A Boeing 737 belonging to Ukraine International Airlines has crashed due to technical problems after take-off from Iran’s Imam Khomeini airport with more than 170 passengers and crew aboard, the semi-official Fars news agency has tweeted.
There were no survivors from the crash, Iran’s Red Crescent has said.
“Obviously it is impossible that passengers” on flight PS-752 “are alive,” the head of Red Crescent told news agency ISNA, adding that 170 passengers and crew had boarded the plane.
State TV earlier said there were 180 passengers and crew aboard, however other local media have stated the aircraft was carrying 167 passengers and nine crew.
Ukraine’s government has announced the plane was carrying 82 Iranians and 63 Canadian nationals when it crashed.
The Boeing 737 was also carrying 11 Ukrainians, 10 Swedes, four Afghans, three Germans and three Britons, Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko wrote on Twitter.
The Boeing 737 had left Tehran’s international airport bound for Kiev, semi-official news agency ISNA said.
Flight data from the airport showed a Ukrainian 737-800 flown by Ukraine International Airlines took off Wednesday morning, then stopped sending data almost immediately afterwards, according to website FlightRadar24.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky confirmed all those on board the plane were killed.
“According to preliminary data, all passengers and crew members are dead,” he wrote on Facebook of the Ukraine International Airlines plane, which was bound for Kiev.
The Red Crescent said teams were assisted by soldiers and firefighters in the effort to recover bodies.
“After six o’clock this morning we were informed that a passenger plane crashed in the vicinity of Shahriar,” said Shahin Fathi, the head of its search and rescue unit.
“All operational teams were dispatched to the area,” he told state television. “Unfortunately… we haven’t found anyone alive.”
Rescue teams remain on the scene near the airport, Reza Jafarzadeh, a spokesman for Iran’s Civil Aviation Organization, told state television on Wednesday.
“The plane is on fire but we have sent crews ,” Pirhossein Koulivand, head of Iran’s emergency services, told the television.
Unverified video has been posted to Twitter showing what appears to be an aircraft banking in the night sky before crashing to the ground.
“Everyone is helping so that we can gather all the bodies that have been scattered in a wide area,” Mr Fathi said.
Press TV, state television’s English-language news broadcaster, said the plane went down in the vicinity of Parand, a city in Tehran province.
The crash was likely to have been caused by “technical difficulties”, it reported, citing Ali Khashani, spokesman for Imam Khomeini International Airport.
“The plane caught fire after crashing,” said Press TV.
A video aired by the state media broadcaster appeared to show the plane already on fire, falling from the sky.
American airline manufacturer Boeing tweeted: “We are aware of the media reports out of Iran and we are gathering more information.”
The crash comes just hours after Iran launched a missile attack targeting two bases in Iraq housing US forces following the killing of senior general Qassem Soleimani last week.
The assassination of Soleimani set off an escalating war of words between Iran and the US.
In Tehran, President Hassan Rouhani on Monday warned US President Donald Trump to “never threaten” Iran, after the US leader issued a US strike list of 52 targets in the Islamic republic.
Following the missile strikes, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said it was banning US-registered carriers from flying over Iraq, Iran and the Gulf after rocket attacks on US forces in Iraq.
“The (FAA) issues Notices to Airmen tonight outlining flight restrictions that prohibit US civil aviation operators from operating in the airspace over Iraq, Iran and the waters of the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman,” it said in a statement.
“The FAA will continue closely monitoring events in the Middle East.”
The Boeing 737-800 is a very common single-aisle, twin-engine jetliner used for short to medium-range flights. Thousands of 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.
More to come