Boeing 737 Plane Crashes in Iran Shortly After Takeoff


A Ukrainian Boeing 737-800 carrying 176 people on Wednesday crashed shortly after takeoff from Tehran, killing everyone on board.

The circumstances of the crash are not fully known. The Iranian state news media cited technical problems on the plane, which was bound for Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital.

The disaster happened against the backdrop of the escalating tensions between the United States and Iran, which on Tuesday attacked two bases in Iraq that house American troops. It also has the potential to add to the crisis at Boeing, which has been dealing with the fallout from two crashes involving a different jet.

Photos and videos from the crash site showed rescuers in a field littered with plane debris, smoldering fires and the personal belongings of passengers. The Iranian Students’ News Agency, a state-run media organization, shared a video it said showed the predawn crash, with a distant light descending in the distance before a bright burst filled the sky upon impact.

After the crash, Ukraine’s Embassy in Iran initially issued a statement ruling out terrorism or a rocket attack as a cause of the crash. But the statement was later removed from the embassy’s website and replaced by a statement saying it was too early to draw any conclusions about what had happened.

At a news conference at Kyiv’s Boryspil International Airport several hours after the crash, Ukraine International Airlines executives said the plane was in good working order and operated by highly trained crew. They offered no theories as to what might have happened and declined to comment on whether or not it might have been shot down.

The airline said 167 passengers and nine crew members were on board.

Vadym Prystaiko, Ukraine’s minister of foreign affairs, said the victims included 82 Iranians and 11 Ukrainians, including nine Ukrainian crew members. Sixty-three passengers were from Canada, 10 from Sweden, four from Afghanistan, three from Germany and three from Britain, he said.

The crash could touch a nerve politically in Ukraine, as Ukraine International Airlines is partly owned through a network of offshore companies by Ihor Kolomoisky. Mr. Kolomoisky is an oligarch with close ties to the Ukrainian president.

The airline said the plane was manufactured in 2016 and delivered directly from the factory, and that it had most recently undergone scheduled maintenance on Monday — two days before the crash. The airline said it was canceling flights to Tehran indefinitely and promised a full investigation into the causes of the crash, involving officials from Ukraine, Iran and Boeing.

The airline began in the 1990s as newly independent Ukraine’s state flag carrier but was subsequently privatized. Its website calls the business a “public private entity.” Before suspending service to Tehran on Wednesday, the carrier offered five direct flights per week from the Iranian capital to Kyiv. The airline flies a fleet of 35 Boeings and seven Embraer aircraft, according to its website.

Officials from the Ukrainian Embassy in Tehran were at the airport Wednesday morning and working to compile a list of the passengers on board, Russia’s state-run RIA Novosti news agency cited an embassy official as saying. Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry said it had set up a crisis working group and a telephone hotline in response to the crash.

Daniel Victor reported from Hong Kong, and Anton Troianovski and Andrew Kramer from Moscow. Farnaz Fassihi contributed reporting from New York.



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