A Ukrainian airliner that crashed near Tehran was on fire and tried to turn around before crashing, Iranian investigators have said in a preliminary report. Iran has invited all relevant parties to participate in the probe.
Eyewitnesses observed a fire on the Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737-800 while it was still airborne, Iran’s civil aviation organization noted. The aircraft attempted to return to Tehran’s Imam Khomeini airport before crashing, killing all 176 people on board, the organization said. The Iranian investigators confirmed that no distress calls or messages were received from the pilot before the plane hit the ground.
Ali Abedzadeh, who leads the civil aviation organization, stated that all relevant countries have been invited to send representatives to help carry out the ongoing investigation into what caused Wednesday’s crash.
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His organization said that all of its findings would be published and publicly available.
Ukraine had initially issued a statement claiming that the crash was due to an engine fire, but later retracted the statement. President Volodymyr Zelensky said that his government was considering several possible causes of accident, but urged the public against speculating and spreading conspiracy theories. Kiev has already dispatched investigators to Iran, according to reports.
The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry revealed that the crash victims included 82 Iranians, 11 Ukrainians, 63 Canadians, four Afghans, three Germans, three British nationals and 10 Swedes.
The crash occurred shortly after an Iranian missile attack on US bases in Iraq, prompting theories that Tehran may have accidentally shot down the plane. However, five security sources told Reuters that the initial assessment of Western intelligence agencies was that the aircraft had suffered from a mechanical malfunction.
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