Three Brits confirmed dead after Ukrainian Airlines plane crash kills 176 in Iran

8 January 2020, 04:10

By Kate Buck

Three British citizens are among 176 people killed on board a Ukrainian commercial airliner that crashed after take-off from Tehran, it was confirmed today.

Vadym Prystaiko, Ukraine's Foreign Minister said the victims included three Brits, 82 Iranians, 63 Canadians, 11 Ukrainians including the plane's crew, 10 Swedes, four from Afghanistan, and three Germans.

Rescue workers carry bodies away from the crash
Rescue workers carry bodies away from the crash. Picture: PA

An investigation team has been deployed to the site of the crash in south-western outskirts of Tehran, civil aviation spokesman Reza Jafarzadeh said.

“After taking off from Imam Khomeini International Airport, it crashed between Parand and Shahriar,” he said. “An investigation team from the national aviation department was dispatched to the location after the news was announced.”

It later emerged that the plane's black box had been recovered, but that Iranian officials were refusing to hand it over to Boeing or to international authorities, amid fears the plane might have been shot down.

Rescue workers are at the crash site
Rescue workers are at the crash site. Picture: PA

The Boeing 737 travelling from Tehran to Kiev crashed outside the city.

Pir Hossein Kulivand, an Iranian emergency official, later told state TV all those on board were killed in the crash. He said rescuers were trying to collect the dead.

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said: "My sincere condolences to the relatives and friends of all passengers and crew."

Investigators look at debris following the crash
Investigators look at debris following the crash. Picture: PA

Iranian State TV had previously said there were 180 passengers and crew aboard.

Flight data from the airport showed a Ukrainian 737-800 flown by Ukraine International Airlines took off on Wednesday morning, then stopped sending data almost immediately afterwards, according to website FlightRadar24. The airline did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Boeing have said they are aware of the reports and are in the process of "gathering more information".

State TV has claimed the crash was caused by mechanical issues.

An Associated Press journalist who reached the crash site saw a wide field of debris scattered across farmland. The dead lay among shattered pieces of the aircraft.

Rescuers in masks shouted over the noise of hovering helicopters as they worked.

The crash came hours after Iran launched a ballistic missile attack targeting two bases in Iraq housing US forces in retaliation for the killing of Revolutionary Guard General Qassem Soleimani.

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