A Ukrainian passenger plane carrying 177 people has crashed near Tehran shortly after take-off, with rescue officials ruling out the chance of finding survivors.
Flight PS752, a Boeing 737-800, stopped sending data almost immediately after leaving Imam Khomeini International Airport on Wednesday morning, and the wreckage was found between Parand and Shahriar towns, a civil aviation spokesperson said.
Appearing on Iranian state TV, rescue officials said they believed all those on board had been killed in the crash.
A statement released by the Ukrainian Security Council said that 168 passengers and 9 crew were registered as flying onboard.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko said three British nationals were on board; only two of the passengers were Ukrainian.
Civil aviation authorities in Iran suggested the numbers were two higher, with 147 Iranians and 32 non-Iranians among the dead.
The plane left took off at 6:12 am, losing contact two minutes later.
According to Iranian media, the pilot did not send any distress signal back to the control tower.
Iranian state officials were quick to assign cause to technical issues, and there was no indication at this early stage that the two events were linked.
Qassem Biniaz, a spokesman for Iran’s Road and Transportation Ministry, said the pilot “lost control of the plane” after a fire broke out in one of its engines.
Initially, a statement on the website of Ukraine’s Iranian embassy appeared to support that interpretation.
It suggested the plane crashed “as a result of a technical malfunction of an engine,” and ruled out the “possibility of a terror attack or missile strike.
” Later, the statement was removed with no explanation.
A photo 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.
Another state-run news agency published what appeared to be footage of the aircraft in its final moments, showing a liner engulfed in flames before exploding on impact.