Mon, Jan 25, 2010 - Page 6 News List

Iranian airplane crashes, 46 injured

TABAN AIRThe plane crashed in bad weather as it was reportedly making an emergency landing because of an ill passenger. There is no word on the cause of the crash

AP AND AFP , TEHRAN

Iranian firemen put out the remnants of a blaze in a plane that caught fire while landing at the airport in Mashad yesterday.

PHOTO: REUTERS

A Russian-made Iranian passenger plane carrying 157 passengers and 13 crew crash landed in northeastern Iran yesterday injuring at least 46 people, state television reported.

The broadcast quoted Iran’s civil aviation spokesman, Reza Jafarzadeh, as saying that no one was killed in the accident. He gave no indication of what might have caused the accident.

The Taban Air plane caught fire upon landing at Mashhad airport at 7:20am. The injured have been taken to hospitals in Mashhad, the report said.

Jafarzadeh said the Tupolev plane initially took off from Abadan airport in southwestern Iran on Saturday evening but landed in Isfahan because of bad weather in Mashhad, its destination.

“The plane took off from Isfahan airport at 5:35am local time Sunday ... Despite bad weather and minimum visibility, the pilot made an emergency landing because a passenger was ill. But the incident then happened during landing,” he said.

An unnamed informed source told Fars news agency that the accident occurred as the Russian pilot landed the plane in the fog and its tail hit the ground and broke up.

Mohsen Esmaili, manager of Mashhad airport told Mehr news agency, that the pilot landed the plane in fog “despite repeated warnings from the control tower, saying he had a sick patient on board.”

Jafarzadeh said the plane was seriously damaged. State television added that part of the aircraft had burned and the left wing and undercarriage were torn off.

Iran has about a dozen Soviet-built Tupolev airliners.

Iran, which has been under years of international sanctions, has suffered a number of aviation disasters over the past decade, several of them involving small companies using Russian crew or crews from former Soviet republics of Central Asia.

Iran’s civil and military fleet is made up of ancient aircraft in very poor condition due to their age and lack of maintenance. Iranian airlines are chronically cashed-strapped and cannot buy new planes.

Iranian officials often blame US sanctions that prevent it from refurbishing the US aircraft bought before the 1979 Islamic revolution and also make it difficult to get spare parts or planes from Europe.

The country has come to rely on Russian aircraft, many of them Soviet-era planes that are harder to get parts for since the fall of the Soviet Union.

In its worst air accident, a plane carrying members of the elite Revolutionary Guards crashed in February 2003, killing 302 people on board.

In February 2006, another 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.

Last July, a Tupolev passenger plane carrying 168 people crashed shortly after takeoff, nose-diving into a field and killing all those aboard.

The Caspian Airlines Tu-154M jet had taken off from Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport and was headed to the Armenian capital Yerevan.

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