A Boeing 737 aircraft belonging to Ukraine International Airlines carrying 176 people crashed on Wednesday shortly after takeoff from Tehran’s main airport, killing all onboard, state media reported.
The plane had taken off from Imam Khomeini International Airport in the Iranian capital when a fire struck one of its engines. The pilot of the aircraft then lost control of the plane, sending it crashing into the ground.
The plane carried 167 passengers and nine crew members from different nations on its flight to the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv. The crash killed all on board, Iranian emergency officials and Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry have confirmed.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy extended his condolences to the families of the victims. His office said he had cut his visit to Oman short and was returning to Kyiv because of the crash. The country’s Prime Minister Oleksiy Honcharuk confirmed the casualty toll.
“Our task is to establish the cause of the crash of the Boeing and provide all necessary help to the families of the victims,” said parliament speaker, Dmytro Razumkov, in a Facebook statement.
Ukrainian authorities have offered to help with the investigation of the plane crash. “We’re preparing a group of specialists in order to help with the search operation and the investigation of the cause of the crash,” Mr. Honcharuk said.
The plane had been delayed from taking off from Imam Khomeini International Airport by almost an hour. It took off to the west, but never made it above 8,000 feet in the air, according to data from the flight-tracking website FlightRadar24. The airline did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The plane, fully loaded with fuel for its 2,300-kilometer (1,430-mile) flight, slammed into farmland near the town of Shahedshahr on the outskirts of Tehran. Videos taken immediately after the crash show blazes lighting up the darkened fields before dawn.
The majority of the passengers were Iranian nationals, Russia’s RIA Novosti agency reported, citing Iranian authorities. Staff at the Boryspil airport in Kyiv, where the plane was headed, told that passengers on this flight are usually Iranian students coming back to Ukraine after winter holidays.
The crash came hours after Iran launched a ballistic missile attack targeting two bases in Iraq housing U.S. forces in retaliation for the killing of Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani.