Plane carrying at least 170 crashes in Iran after takeoff with no survivors

Leit_Wolf/iStock(TEHRAN, Iran) — A Ukraine International Airlines passenger plane carrying at least 170 people crashed in Iran shortly after takeoff Wednesday morning, killing all on board, according to Iranian officials.

“An investigation team from the national aviation department was dispatched to the location after the news was announced,” spokesman Reza Jafarzadeh of the Iranian Aviation Organization said in a statement.

The crash occurred about three hours after Iran fired multiple missiles into Iraq, targeting U.S. military sites in what appeared to be retaliation for the recent American drone strike that killed one of its top generals.

According to preliminary data released by the airline, there were 167 passengers and nine crew members on board. Of those, 82 were Iranian and 63 were Canadian, according to information released from Ukraine’s foreign minister Vadym Prystaiko.

However an official with Tehran’s governor’s office said that the number of Iranians killed in the crash was around 140, suggesting that many of the victims held dual passports.

Also on board, according to the Ukrainian foreign minister, were nine Ukrainian crew members and two Ukrainian passengers, 10 passengers from Sweden, four from Afghanistan, three from Germany and three from Britain. No Americans were on board, according to the minister.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy expressed his condolences in a statement.

“Our embassy is clarifying information around the circumstances of the tragedy and the list of the dead,” Zelenskiy wrote. “My sincere condolences to friends and family of all passengers and members of the crew.”

According to Flightradar24 data, the Boeing 737 aircraft departed Tehran Imam Khomeini International Airport for Ukraine’s capital of Kiev at 6:12 a.m. local time. Flight data dropped off just two minutes later.

The airplane’s black box was recovered from the scene, according to Iran’s state broadcaster IRIB.

Boeing has been under increased scrutiny since two Boeing 737 Max planes were involved in fatal crashes that killed a total of 346 people. The aircraft that crashed Wednesday is not a Max, but a 737 Next Gen — an earlier model that has a generally strong safety record. The 737 Next Gen does not have the software investigators linked to the fatal 737 Max crashes.

“We are aware of the media reports out of Iran and we are gathering more information,” Boeing said in a statement Wednesday to ABC News.

The aircraft was built in 2016 and delivered directly to the airline from the manufacturer, according to Ukraine International Airlines officials. The last scheduled maintenance of the aircraft took place just days prior to the crash, on Jan. 2.

Following the crash, Ukraine International Airlines officials announced that they were suspending all flights to Tehran until further notice.

This is the first fatal crash for the airline since its founding in 1992.

Officials with the International Air Transport Association said they were “deeply saddened” by the news of the crash.

“Our thoughts and condolences go out to the families & friends of those … souls who have lost their lives,” officials with the global airline organization posted on Twitter.

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