Sun, Jul 26, 2009 - Page 6 News List

Thirteen dead in Iran plane crash

REUTERS AND AFP , TEHRAN

The Russian-made Ilyushin 62M operated by the Iranian private airline Arya is pictured after it caught fire and crashed into a wall at the side of an airport runway while landing at the airport in Mashad, Iran, on Friday.

PHOTO: EPA

Thirteen of 16 people killed in a plane accident in northeastern Iran on Friday were crew and the three others were passengers, Iran’s state TV reported yesterday.

The passenger plane, an Ilyushin Il-62 from Kazakhstan leased by Iran’s Aria Aviation Company, veered from the runway and hit a wall while landing at Mashhad’s Hasheminejad Airport.

Iranian media said 30 people were injured in the accident and they were being treated at three hospitals in the same city.

“Nine of the cresw members killed in the incident were citizens of Kazakhstan and the remaining four were Iranians,” Reza Jafarzadeh, the spokesman of Iran’s aviation organization told the official IRNA news agency yesterday.

There were 153 people on board the aircraft, which had flown to Mashhad from Tehran. Iran’s TV showed images of the plane with its front completely damaged and said the accident was because of a malfunction in the aircraft’s wheels.

Iranian media reported that the pilot was among the dead.

State TV said the flying license of Aria Aviation Company had been suspended until an investigation into the plane crash was completed. Mashhad is a popular pilgrimage destination for Shiite Muslims who make up the majority of Iran’s population.

On July 15, a Russian-built Tupolev aircraft crashed in Iran on its way to Armenia, after catching fire mid-air and plowing into farmland, killing all 168 people on board. That accident, in which six Armenian and two Georgian citizens were killed, was the worst plane crash in Iran for six years.

Air safety experts have said Iran has a poor record, with a string of crashes in the past few decades — many involving Russian-made aircraft.

US sanctions against Iran have prevented it from buying new aircraft or spares from the West, forcing it to supplement its aging fleet of Boeing and Airbus planes with aircraft from the former Soviet Union.

Iran’s Civil Aviation Organization spokesman said a team of experts was investigating the incident and the public would be notified soon about the cause of the incident.

A senior transport official said on Friday that the incoming aircraft had overshot the runway.

“Instead of landing at the beginning of the tarmac, the plane landed in the middle of the runway,” the ISNA news agency quoted deputy transport minister Ahmad Majidi as saying. “Because the tarmac’s length is short, it went off the tarmac and crashed into the opposite wall.”

Iran’s TV showed images of the plane with its front completely damaged and said the accident was because of a malfunction in the aircraft’s wheels.

Iranian media reported that the pilot was among the dead.

State TV said the flying license of Aria Aviation Company had been suspended until an investigation into the plane crash was completed. Mashhad is a popular pilgrimage destination for Shiite Muslims who make up the majority of Iran’s population.

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