A Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737-800 has crashed shortly after take-off from Tehran’s international airport killing all 176 passengers and crew onboard.
The early morning disaster was caused by “technical failure following a fire” on board the flight destined for Kyiv, Ali Kashani, the airport’s spokesman, told the state news agency IRNA.
It happened around 6am local time and about six minutes after take-off, according to Mr Kashani, who added that the aeroplane came down near Parand, a town 35km south-west of Tehran.
It is the third Boeing jet to crash in the past 15 months. In an initial statement the company said: “We are aware of the media reports out of Iran and we are gathering more information.”
A video released on social media appeared to show that the plane was on fire immediately before it hit the ground.
Iran’s emergency medical services officials announced that there were no survivors and teams had already begun to collect the bodies of victims. Information about the nationalities of those onboard was not immediately available.
In the Ukraine capital Kyiv, Volodymyr Zelensky, the country’s president, offered his condolences to those who had lost friends and family.
Boeing has been criticised for its response to two earlier crashes involving the 737 Max in Indonesia and Ethiopia that killed 346 people. The 737 Max is the latest model of the 737, the best selling commercial jet in history. In the wake of the Indonesia and Ethiopia accidents Boeing has lost more than $61bn in market value, is being investigated by the US Department of Justice and sued by the families of crash victims.
Congressional hearings last year revealed damaging messages from a former Boeing test pilot who implied he had lied to regulators. In December the Boeing board removed chief executive Dennis Muilenburg and replaced him with board chairman David Calhoun.
The 737 is Boeing’s workhorse, a bestselling model that brings in significant cash flow. While the Ukraine Airlines 737-800 belongs to the same family of planes as the grounded 737 Max, they are different models. The Ukrainian airliner is a 737 NG of which there are more than 8,000 in service worldwide.
The crash came just hours after Iran launched missile strikes at bases in Iraq that are housing US forces in retaliation for the killing of senior military leader General Qassem Soleimani.