No survivors after Ukrainian airliner with 176 aboard crashes in Iran: Top developments

Debris is seen from an Ukrainian plane which crashed as authorities work at the scene in Shahedshahr, southwest of the capital Tehran, Iran, Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020. A Ukrainian airplane carrying 176 people crashed on Wednesday shortly after takeoff from Tehran's main airport, killing all on board. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

Ukraine Boeing 737 Plane Crash in Iran Today: Hours after all 176 passengers and crew aboard the Boeing 737 were killed after the flight crashed in Tehran Wednesday, Iranian search and rescue teams have found the black boxes, the country's civil aviation authority told AFP. Tehran has said they won't give the black boxes to planemaker Boeing, the head of Tehran's civil aviation organisation was quoted as saying.

Earlier in the day, Ukraine's Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko confirmed that there were 82 Iranians and 63 Canadians on board the Ukrainian airliner that crashed in Iran. Aside from Iranians and Canadians, the passengers included 10 Swedes, four Afghans, three Germans and three Britons. Eleven Ukrainians -- including the nine crew -- were also on board. The plane belonging to Ukraine International Airlines crashed minutes after take-off from the Imam Khomeini International Airport and burst into flames.

The Ukraine Embassy ruled out the "terror" links for the moment and said the plane went down "due to an engine problem". President Volodymyr Zelenskiy also warned against speculation and ordered the creation of a crisis team to handle the accident Read in Tamil 

Under international rules overseen by the United Nations, Iran is responsible for leading the crash investigation. A Ukrainian foreign ministry official in Kiev said all 167 passengers and nine crew members aboard were killed, citing information from the airline. Most passengers on crashed Ukraine flight were foreigners, it added. President Volodymyr Zelenskiy expressed condolences and said Ukraine was trying to establish the circumstances of the crash and the death toll.

Rescue workers carry the body of a victim of an Ukrainian plane crash in Shahedshahr, southwest of the capital Tehran, Iran, Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020. A Ukrainian airplane carrying 176 people crashed on Wednesday shortly after takeoff from Tehran's main airport, killing all onboard. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

"The fire is so heavy that we cannot (do) any rescue... we have 22 ambulances, four bus ambulances and a helicopter at the site," Pirhossein Koulivand, head of Iran's emergency services, told state television.

"After taking off from Imam Khomeini International Airport, it crashed between Parand and Shahriar," civil aviation spokesman Reza Jafarzadeh said. "An investigation team from the national aviation department was dispatched to the location after the news was announced."

A Ukrainian foreign ministry official in Kiev said all crew and passengers aboard were killed, citing information from the airline. (Twitter/@isna_farsi)

According to air tracking service FlightRadar24, the plane that crashed was Flight PS 752 and was flying to Kiev. The plane was three years old and was a Boeing 737-NG, it said. The airline's call centre in Kiev said it had no information yet. Boeing spokesman Gordon Johndroe said the company was aware of media reports of a plane crash in Iran and was gathering more information.

The plane that crashed was a three-year-old Boeing 737-800NG en route to Kiev, air tracking service FlightRadar24 said. "The last scheduled maintenance of the aircraft took place on 06 January, 2020," the airline said. A spokesperson for the manufacturer said it was gathering more information. The 737-800 is one of the world’s most-flown models with a good safety record and does not have the software feature implicated in crashes of the 737 MAX.

A photo later published by Iran's state-run IRNA news agency showed rescue officials in a farm field, with what appeared to be pieces of the aircraft laying nearby.

An investigation team was at the site of the crash in southwestern outskirts of Tehran (Source: Twitter/@StratSentinel)

State TV earlier said there were 180 passengers and crew aboard. 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 Gen. Qassem Soleimani.

The Boeing 737-800 is a very common single-aisle, twin-engine jetliner used for short to medium-range flights. Thousands of the planes are used by airlines around the world. Introduced in the late 1990s, it is an older model than the Boeing 737 MAX, which has been grounded for nearly 10 months following two deadly crashes.

The plane was three years old and was a Boeing 737-NG

Boeing, like other airline manufacturers, typically assists in crash investigations. However, that effort, in this case, could be affected by the US sanctions campaign in place on Iran since President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from Tehran's nuclear deal with world powers in May 2018.

Airlines avoid Iranian airspace

Numerous airlines said they were avoiding Iranian and Iraqi airspace for flights to the region after Tehran fired ballistic missiles against bases housing US troops in Iraq. An Air France spokesperson told AFP: "As a precautionary measure and following news of airstrikes underway, Air France has decided to suspend until further notice all flights through Iranian and Iraqi airspace."

Germany's Lufthansa, Dubai-based Emirates and low-cost flydubai were among airlines that canceled flights, as the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration barred American carriers from the area. But several other carriers continued operations over the affected airspace.

Shortly after the missile attacks, the US Federal Aviation Administration said it was banning US-registered carriers from flying over Iraq, Iran and the Gulf.

Ukraine embassy in Iran drops reference to engine failure as cause of crash

Ukraine's embassy in Iran dropped an initial reference to engine failure as the cause of a Ukrainian plane crash outside Tehran on Wednesday, as per Reuters. It said in a second statement that the causes had not been disclosed and that any previous comments were not official.

Iran crash is first fatal incident for Ukrainian airline

This was the first fatal incident involving Ukraine International Airlines (UIA), and the Boeing 737-800, one of the best in its fleet, was flown by experienced pilots, UIA officials said. Ukraine set up a commission to investigate the plane crash, while UIA said the aircraft had been in good working order and that it was doing all it could to establish what happened.

Founded in 1992 after the collapse of the Soviet Union, UIA operates out of Kiev's Boryspil airport. Planes operated by the loss-making, privately-held UIA have suffered technical problems in flight over the years but have never crashed before.

63 Canadians dead in Iran plane crash

Canada's foreign minister said Wednesday he's been in touch with the government of Ukraine upon learning that 63 Canadians died in a Ukrainian passenger jet, just minutes after taking off from Iran's capital. Foreign Minister François-Philippe Champagne called it tragic news and said Wednesday Canada's "hearts are with the loved ones of the victims, including many Canadians." He vowed to keep Canadians informed as the situation evolves.

(With inputs from agencies)