66 feared dead as plane crashes in Iran mountains
All 66 people on board an Iranian passenger plane were feared dead on Sunday after it crashed into the country's Zagros mountains, with emergency services struggling to locate the wreckage in blizzard conditions.
Aseman Airlines flight EP3704 left Tehran around 0800 (0430 GMT) for the city of Yasuj, some 500 kilometres (300 miles) to the south, the airline's public relations chief Mohammad Tabatabai told state broadcaster IRIB.
The ATR-72 twin-engine plane, in service since 1993, disappeared from radar around 45 minutes after takeoff from the capital's Mehrabad airport.
Emergency services had yet to locate the precise location of the crash.
The plane was carrying 60 passengers, including one child, as well as six crew, said Tabatabai.Iran's Aseman Airlines retracted its statement on Sunday that all 66 people had died, as rescue teams struggled to find the wreckage.
"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," Tabatabaie said.
Mojtaba Khaledi, spokesman for the national emergency services said that a helicopter had been sent to the area.
"Given the fact that the area is mountainous, it is not possible to send ambulances," he said.
However foggy conditions prevented rescue helicopters from accessing the mountainous crash site, state TV reported.
Under decades of international sanctions, Iran's commercial passenger aircraft fleet has aged, with air accidents occurring regularly in recent years.