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PA Images Workers near debris from the plane crash on the outskirts of Tehran

Iran 'will not give black boxes to Americans' as 176 killed in plane crash near Tehran

The plane had taken off from Imam Khomeini International Airport in Tehran.

LAST UPDATE | Jan 8th 2020, 11:41 AM

BLACK BOXES FROM the Ukranian airliner that crashed after takeoff in Iran killing all 176 on board have been recovered but authorities say they will not hand them to US investigators

Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752 had taken off from Imam Khomeini International Airport in Iran’s capital Tehran and was bound for Kiev. 

Ukraine’s Minister for Foreign Affairs tweeted that the deceased include 82 Iranians, 63 Canadians, 11 Ukrainians, ten Swedes, four Afghans, three Germans and three Britons.

An Iranian authority spokesperson has confirmed that the black boxes from the Boeing 737 aircraft have been recovered but Iran has said it will not hand them over the US.

“We will not give the black boxes to the manufacturer (Boeing) and the Americans,” Iran Civil Aviation Organisation head Ali Abedzadeh said, quoted by Mehr news agency.

The crash occurred with tensions high in the Middle East and shortly after Tehran launched missiles at bases in Iraq housing US troops. But there was no immediate indication of foul play and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned against “speculating” on the cause of the disaster. 

Iranian state news agency IRNA reported that the crash is suspected to have been caused by mechanical issues but Ukrainian officials have said that this has not yet been confirmed. 

“Information on the causes of the plane crash are clarified by the commission. Any statements regarding the causes of the accident before the commission decision are not official,” Ukraine’s embassy said in translated statement.  

Search and rescue teams have been trawling through the wreckage of the plane after it slammed into a field before dawn about 45 kilometres from where it departed. 

Ukraine International Airlines has said the Boeing 737 involved in the crash had been built in 2016 and was checked only two days before it went down.

Footage released by Iranian state media showed a field on fire and the smoking wreckage of the crash.

Guardian News / YouTube

An investigation team was at 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.”

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.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky also confirmed that all those on board had been killed.

“According to preliminary data, all passengers and crew members are dead,” he wrote on Facebook of the plane, which was bound for Kiev.

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.

Guardian News / YouTube

Associated Press journalists 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.

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.

It is an older model than the Boeing 737 MAX, which has been grounded for nearly ten months following two deadly crashes.

A number of 737-800 aircraft have been involved in deadly accidents over the years.

In March 2016, a FlyDubai 737-800 from Dubai crashed while trying to land at Rostov-on-Don airport in Russia, killing 62 on board.

Another 737-800 flight from Dubai, operated by Air India Express, crashed in May 2010 while trying to land in Mangalore, India, killing more than 150.

The Chicago-based Boeing was “aware of the media reports out of Iran and we are gathering more information,” spokesman Michael Friedman told the Associated Press.

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.

Contains reporting from - © AFP 2019 and Rónán Duffy

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