At least 176 people have died from the accident of a Boeing 737 passenger plane of the Ukrainian airline Ukraine International Airlines (UIA) that crashed on Wednesday shortly after taking off from the Imam Khomeini International Airport in Tehran.
The plane, a Boeing 737, crashed due to an apparent technical failure after 6.00 (local time), “minutes after” takeoff, according to the Red Crescent, which has participated in the emergency deployment. The head of the organization in Iran, Morteza Salimi, has confirmed in a statement the death of all the people traveling on board.
The Red Crescent and the Iranian authorities have estimated in 179 the total number of passengers and crew on board the aircraft, of which 147 were nationals of Iran, according to the head of emergency services, Pir Husein Kulivan, quoted by the Tasnim news agency.
However, the Prime Minister of Ukraine, Oleksei Honcharuk, said at a press conference that the “preliminary data” show that 167 passengers and nine crew members were on board, which would put the provisional number of deaths at 176. Of these victims, eleven have been identified as Ukrainians, including the entire crew.
In addition, among the deceased there would also be passengers of Canadian, Swedish, Afghan and British nationality, although the head of the Government of Ukraine has clarified that a “final list” of victims has not yet been drawn up.
Iran’s Ministry of Transportation has explained that the aircraft has crashed after one of its engines caught fire. Iranian and Ukrainian authorities have ruled out ‘a priori’ that it is an attack or an act of sabotage, while both Kiev and the airline have ensured that the plane was in good condition.
The President of Ukraine, Volodimir Zelenski, has lamented the tragedy and confirmed that he has ordered the Prosecutor’s Office to open a criminal investigation to debug responsibilities, as well as a broader examination of the state of civil aviation. Until knowing the exact circumstances of the incident, he has urged not to go into “speculation” or pick up “unverified versions,” according to his office.
As a precautionary measure, the Ukrainian Government has ordered the cancellation of all flights to Iran, pending the conclusions that a group of “experts” that will investigate the incident could draw, Honcharuk announced. The prime minister has indicated that Ukrainian diplomatic personnel are already working with the Iranian authorities.
Local teams have already recovered the two black boxes of the plane, in the hands of experts for analysis, according to the Isna news agency. The Prosecutor’s Office has also confirmed the discovery of the remains of all passengers and crew of the PS752 flight.