No survivors after Ukrainian jet crashes near Tehran after take-off

TEHRAN, Farshid Motahari and Christian Thiele (dpa)- All passengers and crew on board a Ukrainian passenger jet died on Wednesday as it crashed shortly after take-off in a field near Tehran.
According to authorities in Ukraine and Iran, 176 people were on board the Ukrainian International Airlines flight. Two passengers did not board the flight. It was unclear whether they were on the passenger list.

The crash came hours after Iranian missiles struck bases hosting US forces in Iraq in retaliation for the killing of a senior Iranian general. The cause is under investigation, but it is not thought that it is connected to the regional conflict.
The plane from Iran's capital Tehran to Kiev departed at around 5 am (0130 GMT). The Boeing 737 crashed after take-off in an open field in the suburb of Parand.
Both black boxes have been found and are being investigated by Iranian aviation experts, the Isna news agency reported. The public prosecutor's office in Tehran confirmed that the remains of all passengers have been brought to forensics experts.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko said the passengers included 82 Iranians, 63 Canadians, 10 Swedish nationals, two Ukrainians, four Afghans, three British citizens and three Germans. The nine crew were also from Ukraine.
Germany's Foreign Ministry later said there were no German victims. Sweden's Foreign Ministry confirmed Swedish fatalities. The Foreign Ministry in Kabul tweeted that 10 Afghan nationals were killed.
The Iranian aviation authority cited a technical defect as the cause of the crash, Iranian broadcaster Chabar reported, citing a spokesman.
It was not immediately clear how authorities had come to that conclusion so soon after the crash. Boeing tweeted simply that the company was aware of media reports and was gathering more information.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky expressed his deep concern after the crash and warned against speculation about its cause.
"Please refrain from disseminating unverified information about the catastrophe until official information is published," he wrote.
The country was to conduct its own investigation and the attorney general was instructed to open criminal proceedings, Zelensky said.
In the evening, dozens of relatives and employees of Ukraine International Airlines commemorated the victims with lanterns and flowers at Boryspil Airport in Kiev.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada will work with its international partners to ensure that the crash is “thoroughly investigated, and that Canadians’ questions are answered.”
Trudeau said he was “shocked and saddened” by the reports of the plane crash that killed 63 Canadians.
"On behalf of the Government of Canada, Sophie and I offer our deepest condolences to those who have lost family, friends, and loved ones in this tragedy,” Trudeau said in a statement, referring to his wife.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called for "complete cooperation with any investigation into the cause of the crash."
"The United States will continue to follow this incident closely and stands prepared to offer Ukraine all possible assistance," Pompeo said.
Ukraine International Airlines stopped its flights to Tehran. The plane had just been inspected on Monday, company president Evgeny Dkhyne said.
Company vice president Igor Sosnovsky said the plane had reached a height of 2,400 metres when the accident happened. "The chances of a mistake by the crew are minimal."
The Boeing 737-800 twin-engine jet was only delivered in 2016, Jan-Arwed Richter from the German-based JACDEC flight safety office told dpa.
It was by far the most serious crash of any Ukrainian civilian aircraft and the first fatal accident since Ukrainian International Airlines began operations in 1994, Richter explained.
The Boeing 737-800 is a medium-haul jet of a type operated by airlines worldwide. It should not be confused with the Boeing 737 MAX, which was banned from flying worldwide after two serious crashes.
The US Federal Aviation Administration Wednesday barred commercial flights from entering Iranian and Iraqi airspace, after Iran launched missiles targeting US troops based in Iraq.
Heightened military activity and tensions in the region could present "an inadvertent risk" due to the "potential for miscalculation or mis-identification," the FAA statement said.
Several other airlines said they were to avoid Iranian and Iraqi airspace.
Condolences poured in from across the world, with the German government, Pope Francis and Russian leader Vladimir Putin, among many others, expressing their condolences to the victims' families.

Wednesday, January 8th 2020
Farshid Motahari and Christian Thiele (dpa)

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