Dozens of foreign nationals killed in Iran plane crash

Canadians, Swedes, Germans among foreign nationals killed in Ukraine jet crash in Iran
3 min read
08 January, 2020
Around 177 people were killed when a Ukraine International Airlines flight from Tehran crashed early on Wednesday morning.
Preliminary information indicates an engine failure, Ukraine has said [Anadolu]

Dozens of Canadian and other foreign nationals were among the passengers on the Ukranian plane that crashed near the Iranian capital on Wednesday, killing all on board.

More than 170 people were killed in the sudden crash which occurred shortly after the Ukraine International Airlines flight took off from Tehran's Imam Khomenei airport.

An initial statement by the Ukranian embassy in Tehran said the crash was likely caused by an "engine malfunction", reitirating assertions made by Iranian officials.

The embassy later deleted the statement, clarifying that any statements regarding the cause of the crash were not yet official.

The flight was carrying 82 Iranian and 63 Canadian nationals, Ukranian Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko said in a tweet.

The Boeing 737 jet was also carrying 11 Ukranians, 10 Swedes, four Afghans, three Germans and three Britons, he said.

Iranian rescue workers have found both black boxes belonging to the plane that will facilitate further investigations into the crash.

The Boeing 737 jet was built in 2016 and checked just two days before the crash, Ukraine International Airlines said in a statement.

"The plane was manufactured in 2016, it was received by the airline directly from the [Boeing] factory. The plane underwent its last planned technical maintenance on January 6, 2020," the airline said.

Founded in 1992, Ukraine International Airlines had not suffered a crash before Wednesday.

A statement earlier on Wednesday from the Ukranian embassy in Tehran ruled out a terrorist attack causing the crash amid speculation that an anti-aircraft missile downed the Boeing 737 jet in an attack reminiscent of the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 some six years ago.

"According to preliminary information, the plane crashed due to an engine malfunction. The version of the terrorist attack or rocket attack is currently excluded," the embassy said in a since-deleted statement published on its website.

The embassy later retracted the statement, clarifying that "information on the causes of the plane crash is being clarified" by a Ukranian-formed commission. 

"Any statements regarding the causes of the accident prior to the decision of said commission are not official," it said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has urged people not to speculate about the cause of the crash.

"I ask everyone to keep from speculating and putting forth unconfirmed theories about the crash," he said in a Facebook post, as he cut short a holiday in Oman and flew back to Ukraine.

Zelensky has ordered the creation of a crisis team to handle the accident managed by the Ukranian national security agency and including top ministers.

The agency said 168 passengers had checked in for the flight as well as nine crew members, putting the total estimated number of people on the plane at 177.

Iran's Civil Aviation Authority is also investigating the crash.

Zelensky said that his government had "prepared emergency planes to send to Tehran... to fly out the bodies of the victims". 

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