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Iranian commercial plane crashes with 66 people onboard

Aseman Airlines ATR-72 crashed

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TEHRAN, Iran - A commercial plane, Aseman Airlines ATR-72 crashed in southern Iran on Sunday, with all 66 people onboard feared dead.

The Iranian state media confirmed on Sunday that the twin-engine turboprop went down near its destination in the southern Iranian city of Yasuj, which is about 780kilometress south of Tehran.

The commercial plane, Flight No. EP3704 is used for short-distance regional flying and Aseman Airlines spokesman Mohammad Taghi Tabatabai said that the plane crashed into Mount Dena, which is about 4,400 meters (14,435 feet) tall.

According to FlightRadar24, the plane took off from Tehran at 0433 GMT and gave its last signal at 0555 GMT, when the flight was at 16,975 feet and was descending.

Tabatabai said in the statement, “This plane had 60 passengers, 59 adults and one child, as well as a pilot, a co-pilot, two flight attendants and two air marshals on board. After searching the area, we learned that unfortunately... our dear passengers had lost their lives.”

However, the airline later retracted the statement saying definitively that all aboard were dead.

The airline later said, "Given the special circumstances of the region, we still have no access to the spot of the crash and therefore we cannot accurately and definitely confirm the death of all passengers of this plane."

According to the state TV, the foggy conditions hampered efforts by rescue helicopters which couldn’t reach the crash site in the Zagros Mountains. 

Instead of using a helicopter, emergency teams had to travel to the crash site by land.

Aseman Airlines, a semi-private air carrier headquartered in Tehran is owned by Iran’s civil service pension foundation and is Iran’s third-largest airline by fleet size and boasts of 29 aircraft, including six ATR aircraft.

The airlines specializes in flights to remote airfields across the country and also flies internationally. 

Aseman Airlines CEO Ali Abedzadeh said on State TV that the French-Italian-made twin-engine turboprop ATR 72-500 that crashed Sunday, had been built in 1993.

However, State TV said that no one had found the crash site yet.

But the Iranian Red Crescent said it has deployed to the area and authorities said they have launched an investigation into the crash. 

In recent years, Iran has suffered several aviation accidents due to its ageing aircraft fleet.

Further, reports have noted that the country has struggled to obtain spare parts to maintain its planes in the face of international sanctions imposed to curb its nuclear programme.


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