A jet that crashed in Iran, killing 176 people, may have been downed by an Iranian missile, which was confirmed by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Thursday, citing preliminary intelligence reports.
“The evidence indicates that the plane was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile,” Trudeau said in a press conference Thursday afternoon. “This may well have been unintentional.”
Here’s what we know.
What happened in the crash?
Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 crashed Wednesday morning after taking off from Teheran Imam Khomeini International Airport. The crash came hours after Iran launched a missile attack on Iraqi bases housing U.S. and coalition forces.
A London global information firm, IHS Markit, issued a report Thursday stating that the plane — a Boeing 737-800, unrelated to the 737 MAX aircraft — likely was mistakenly shot down by an Iranian missile.
“Photographs purportedly taken near the site of the crash and circulated on social media appear to show the guidance section of an SA-15 Gauntlet short-range, surface to air missile, which landed in a nearby garden,” the firm IHS Markit said in its report.
The firm added that publicly available flight data found that the plane shows a normal ascent until the plane disappears while flying at 8,000 feet.
Iranian officials said the plane was trying to return to the airport when it crashed.
The plane, Iranian officials said, apparently suffered engine failure.
What are officials saying?
Trudeau announced Thursday in a press conference that intelligence reveals that the plane was shot down by an Iranian missile. He said the missile attack may have been unintentional.
He added that last week’s drone strikes that killed Gen. Qasem Soleimani may be the “likely cause” of the missile attack leading to the crash.
The conference came hours after President Donald Trump said that the crash was suspicious and that “somebody could have made a mistake on the other side.”
A source who was present in a federal official briefing Thursday also said it appears missile components were found near the crash site, per CBS.
In Ukraine, Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of the National Security and Defense Council, said that investigators were looking into claims that parts of a Russian-made, surface-to-air missile stocked by Iran were found near the crash site.
Former U.S. Department of Transportation inspector general Mary Schiavo said that a catastrophic event may have happened midair, pointing out that the flight’s crew did not send a distress call, nor did it report any mechanical issues mid-flight.
Iranian state media reports that Ali Abedzadeh, who is in charge of the country’s Civil Aviation Organization, disputed the suggestion that it shot down the airliner. He argued that the country’s missiles were incapable of reaching that altitude, deeming it “scientifically impossible.”
Who were the victims?
176 people — 167 passengers and 9 crew members, all of whom were Ukrainian — died after the plane crash.
82 of them were Iranian and 63 of them were Canadians, while the others were Swedish, Afghan, German and British.
It’s one of the worst losses of life for Canadians in an aviation disaster.
What we don’t know
It is unclear whether the unconfirmed Iranian missile was intentionally fired. Trudeau did not answer this question when asked, stating that an on-site investigation must happen before making this assessment.
Further, the information in the black boxes also remains unknown. Ukrainian investigators will have access to the black boxes, Trudeau said. Authorities in Iran want to keep the audio and data recorders from the flight in Iran, and said they won’t allow Boeing and U.S. aviation officials access.
It also remains unclear what Canada’s next steps are if Iran does not provide a “credible and complete” investigation.
Contributing: Kim Hjelmgaard; Curtis Tate, David Oliver and Chris Woodyard, USA TODAY; Associated Press
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