A Boeing 737 jet, operated by Ukraine International Airlines, came down shortly after takeoff from Imam Khomeini International Airport in Tehran killing at least 167 passengers and nine crew members
82 Iranians, 11 Ukrainians, 63 Canadians, four Afghans, three Germans, three British nationals and 10 Swedes died in the crash, which took place between the cities of Parand and Shahriar, according to a tweet from Ukrainian foreign minister Vadym Prystaiko.
“Terrible news about the plane crash in Tehran. My sincere condolences to the families of the dead,” Prystaiko said in statement on Twitter.
He added that “Ukrainian authorities continue to investigate” and that Ukraine has refused to rule out that the plane was struck by a missile.
The Guardian reports: A statement initially posted on the website of the Ukrainian embassy in Iran ruled out an act of terror and said the crash had been caused by an engine malfunction. However, this was later redacted, with the embassy stating that all information would be provided by an official commission.
The black box containing vital records of how the plane crashed has been located in a field among the debris outside Tehran, but Iran said it would not hand the device over to plane maker Boeing. It is not clear whether Iranian authorities are disputing the legality of handing over the black box to Boeing, a US company, or whether they are seeking to inspect the box themselves.
The news has fuelled speculation that there was something suspicious about the downing of the plane.
Boeing, which would usually assist with such investigations, released a brief statement saying it was aware of the media reports about the disaster and was gathering more information.
The 737-800 belongs to the same family as, but is different to, the 737 Max 8 aircraft, which has been grounded since two fatal crashes occurred within six months in Indonesia and Ethiopia in 2018. The 737-800 operates with a different software system to the one implicated in the Max 8 crashes.
The plane was less than four years old and had been checked two days before the accident, according to Ukraine International Airlines, which has indefinitely suspended flights to Tehran.Yevheniy Dykhne, the president of the airline, said it was “one of the best planes we had, with an amazing, reliable crew”. Nine of the Ukrainians onboard were crew.