Iran has blamed technical failure and an engine fire for a plane crash which killed 177 people near Tehran today, but is refusing to hand over the recovered black boxes to Boeing or the US.
The Boeing 737 jet came down just minutes after take-off from Imam Khomeini International Airport early this morning, hours after Iran launched missile strikes on US bases in revenge for Qassem Solemani’s death.
Three Britons and 63 Canadians were among the 177 passengers and crew on board the Ukrainian International Airlines flight to Kyiv. There were no survivors.
Iran is blaming ‘technical difficulties’ and says the pilot lost control after a fire struck one of the plane’s engines, but said the crew had not reported an emergency and is refusing to say what will happen to the black boxes.
The Ukrainian embassy in Tehran initially stated that the crash had been caused by an engine failure rather than terrorism or a missile attack, but later rescinded that claim.
The Boeing plane was less than four years old and had been checked just two days earlier, with ‘one of our best crews’ manning the aircraft, a Ukrainian airline official said.
The disaster deals a further blow to Boeing which was thrown into crisis by two plane crashes in October 2018 and March 2019 which killed a combined 346 people.
French jet engine manufacturer CFM said any speculation about a technical failure was ‘premature’.
The crash sparked fresh alarm in the already tense Middle East and a series of airlines have announced they will stop flying over Iranian airspace.
The Ukrainian foreign ministry revealed there were 82 Iranians, 63 Canadians and three Britons on flight PS752, along with 11 Ukrainians, 10 Swedes, four Afghans and four Germans.
Canada is home to a large Iranian diaspora community and UIA offers discount flights between Tehran and Toronto, with a transit in Kiev.