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Plane crashes in Iran; 168 thought dead

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From twitter:


RT: @cnnbrk: "Plane crashes in Iran; 168 thought dead" - http://tinyurl.com/m9uyay




State media: 168 killed in Iran plane crash


By ALI AKBAR DAREINI – 16 minutes ago


TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — An Iranian passenger plane crashed Wednesday in northwest Iran, killing all 168 people on board, state media reported.


Footage from the scene on state-run Press TV showed a deep trench smashed into an agricultural field by the impact, littered with smoking wreckage. It showed a large chunk of a wing, but much of the wreckage appeared to be in small pieces.


The Russian-made Caspian Airlines jet was heading from Tehran to the Armenian capital Yerevan when it crashed near the village of Jannatabad outside the city of Qazvin, around 75 miles northwest of Tehran, state television said.


The Qazvin emergency services director Hossein Bahzadpour told the IRNA news agency that the plane was completely destroyed and shattered to pieces, and the wreckage was in flames. "It his highly likely that all the passengers on the flight were killed," Bahzadpour said.


He did not give a number, but Iranian Civil Aviation Organization spokesman Reza Jafarzadeh told state television that 153 passengers and 15 crewmembers were on board. State TV said all were killed.


A Caspian Airlines representative told AP in Yerevan that most of the passengers were Armenians, and that some Georgian citizen and other nationalities were on board. The representative spoke on condition of anonymity because she was not authorized to talk to the press.


Caspian Airlines is a Russian-Iranian joint venture founded in 1993. Iran has frequent plane crashes often because of bad maintenance of its aging aircraft. Tehran blames the problem in part on U.S. sanctions that prevent Iran from getting spare parts for some planes. Caspian Airlines, however, uses Russian-made Tupolevs whose maintenance would be less impaired by American sanctions.


In February 2006, a Russian-made TU-154 operated by Iran Airtour, which is affiliated with Iran's national carrier, crashed during landing in Tehran, killing 29 of the 148 people on board. Another Airtour Tupolev crashed in 2002 in the mountains of western Iran, killing all 199 on board.


The crashes have also affected Iran's military. In December 2005, 115 people were killed when a U.S.-made C-130 plane, crashed into a 10-story building near Tehran's Mehrabad airport. In Nov. 2007, a Russian-made Iranian military plane crashed shortly after takeoff killing 36 members of the elite Revolutionary Guards.


AP writer Avet Demourian in Yerevan, Armenia, contributed to this report.


Edited by Naim

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US still sanctions them on Parts?


Tupolev TU-154M, registration EP-CPG. Russian plane lah.

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From AVHerald:


Crash: Caspian Airlines T154 near Janat-Abad on Jul 15th 2009, impacted terrain and burst into flames

By Simon Hradecky, created Wednesday, Jul 15th 2009 10:37Z, last updated Wednesday, Jul 15th 2009 14:31Z


A Caspian Airlines Tupolev TU-154M, registration EP-CPG performing flight RV-7908 from Tehran Imam Khomeini (Iran) to Yerevan (Armenia) with 153 passengers and 15 crew, crashed about 16 minutes after takeoff from Tehran's Imam Khomeini Airport in the vicinity of the village of Janat-Abad (Qazvin province of Iran) about 120km (65nm) westnorthwest of Tehran. The airplane broke up and burst into flames at 11:49 local time (07:19Z). All occupants perished.


The pilot had reported the left hand engine #1 (engine type D-30KU-154-II) on fire before the airplane went down.


Iran's disaster management center within the health ministry confirmed, that all occupants have been killed in the crash.


Local police and fire services report, that the airplane left an impact crater of about 10 meters depth, all debris spread over a radius of about 150-200 meters (500-650 feet).


According to the airline the airplane was built in 1987 (confirming initial reports suggesting EP-CPG).


Aviation Sources within Iran report, that the airplane had been cleared to climb to FL320. The radar showed, that after reaching the peak at FL288 the airplane began to lose altitude and came down to 14700 feet within 55 seconds (average sink rate 15400 feet per minute) while deviating to the left of the assigned flight path.


Metars (Tehran Mehrabad):

OIII 150800Z 12010KT CAVOK 36/M02 Q1007 A2976 873.6

OIII 150730Z 13010KT CAVOK 35/M01 Q1008 A2978 874.1

OIII 150700Z 13010KT CAVOK 35/M01 Q1008 A2978 874.1

OIII 150630Z 13008KT CAVOK 35/M01 Q1008 A2979 874.3

OIII 150600Z 12010KT CAVOK 34/M02 Q1008 A2979 874.3


Video from Reuters.


Excerpt from Reuters:


"I saw a finger of a passenger on the ground. There is no sign of the airplane, just small pieces of metal," said a Reuters witness. "I do not see even a complete leg or arm."


One witness said he had seen the plane on fire in the air, trying to land. "It made circles in the air. Then I heard an explosion," Mostafa Babashahverdi, a farmer, told Reuters.


"We found severed heads, fingers and passports of the passengers," he said.



The hole of the impact was said to be 10 meters deep.

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Black boxes found after Iran plane crash


TEHRAN — The black boxes from an Iranian airliner that crashed in flames near Tehran, killing all 168 people on board, have been found, a transport ministry official said.


"The plane's recording and flight systems have been found," Ahmad Majidi, head of the ministry's crisis unit, told the official IRNA news agency. "Our experts are examining the black boxes to try to determine the cause of the crash."


The Caspian Airlines Tupolev-154 caught fire in mid-air en route to Armenia and plunged into farmland on Wednesday, killing all 153 passengers and 15 crew in the worst air disaster in sanctions-hit Iran in years.


Witnesses said the plane was ablaze before smashing into the ground and exploding near a village near the northwestern city of Qazvin shortly after take-off from Tehran.


Television images showed a vast smoking crater at the disaster site littered with debris of plane parts, shoes and clothes.


One relief worker told an AFP reporter at the site that all he found were "pieces of flesh and bones."


"There is not a single piece which can be identified. There is not a single finger of anybody left," he said, standing next to a body bag filled with pieces of flesh.


In Yerevan, the deputy head of the Armenian civil aviation organisation, Arsen Pogossian, said the pilot had attempted an emergency landing after an engine caught fire.


He said 147 passengers were Iranian, of whom 31 were of Armenian origin, four were Armenians and two Georgians.


Iranian officials said 10 members of the junior national judo team were also among those killed.


In Sydney, officials said an Australian brother and sister, aged in their 20s, who possibly had dual nationality, were among the dead.


Witnesses spoke of seeing the plane on fire before it plunged to earth.


"I saw the plane when it was just... above the ground. Its wheels were out and there was fire blazing from the lower parts," witness Ablolfazl Idaji told the Fars news agency.


"It seemed the pilot was trying to land and moments later the plane hit the ground and broke into pieces that were scattered far and wide."


A farmer, 18-year-old Ahmad, gave a similar account.


"I was driving my tractor when I saw a big fire in the sky," he told AFP.


"There were burnt parts scattered across the ground and I followed them and arrived at the crater. You could not believe your eyes. Nothing was left, but just a big hole with fire coming out of it."


Many relatives vented their anger at Caspian Airlines, saying its planes could not be trusted.


"I hate these planes. With so much travel between Iran and Armenia, there have to be better planes," said Alex, 24, an Iranian of Armenian origin who lost around dozen friends and relatives in the crash, including children.


The Tupolev Tu-154 is a Soviet-designed medium-range three-engine aircraft and was a best-seller for the Russian aircraft industry between 1972 and 1994.


Iran's civil aviation spokesman Reza Jafarzadeh said the plane had taken off from Imam Khomeini international airport at 11:33 am (0703 GMT) but 16 minutes later "it disappeared off the radar and then it crashed."


State television's website quoted Ahmad Momeni, managing director of Iran's airport authority, as saying that the last conversation between the pilot and the ground was "normal and did not indicate any technical glitch."


President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has ordered a transport ministry probe into the disaster, the third major plane crash in the world in six weeks.


Two weeks ago a Yemenia Airbus crashed in the Indian Ocean off the Comoros, killing 152 people, while on June 1 an Air France Airbus plunged into the Atlantic coast off Brazil killing 228.


Iran, which has been under years of international sanctions hampering its ability to buy Boeing or Airbus planes, has suffered a number of aviation disasters over the past decade.


In December 2005, 108 people were killed when a Lockheed transport plane crashed into a foot of a high-rise housing block outside Tehran.


In November 2006, a military plane crashed on takeoff in Tehran, killing all 39 people on board.


Iran's civil and military fleet is made up of ancient aircraft in very poor condition due to their age and lack of maintenance.



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