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Iran state media report dozens dead in plane crash

© Atta Kenare, AFP | The passenger jet crashed near Tehran's Mehrabad airport on Sunday.

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-08-10

A civilian airliner crashed on take-off in a residential area near Tehran's Mehrabad airport on Sunday, Iranian news agencies said, with reports that up to 40 people were killed.

The plane, operated by Sepahan Air, was headed to the eastern city of Tabas, the IRNA and Fars news agencies said, and went down in a residential area shortly after its 9.20am (0450 GMT) take-off due to an engine failure.

The official IRINN television channel said the plane crashed in the Azadi neighbourhood, west of the airport, but did not state if fatalities were confined to passengers or if people were also killed on the ground.

The broadcaster cited officials saying 39 people were killed and another nine were injured in the crash.

Mehrabad is near central Tehran and is Iran's main domestic hub and by far the busiest of the country's airports, serving routes to all Iranian cities.

Most international flights take off from Tehran Imam Khomeini International Airport, which is located further west of the Iranian capital.

The Iran-140, is a 52-seat passenger plane produced in Iran with Ukrainian technology.

Iran has suffered a series of airplane crashes, blamed on its aging aircraft and poor maintenance. Many of the Boeing aircraft in IranAir’s fleet were bought before the country’s 1979 Islamic Revolution, which disrupted ties with the US and Europe.

Iranian airlines, including those run by the state, are chronically strapped for cash, and maintenance has suffered, experts say. U.S. sanctions prevent Iran from updating its American aircraft and make it difficult to get European spare parts or planes as well.

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

The last major airliner crash in Iran happened in January 2011, when an Iran Air Boeing 727 broke to pieces on impact while trying an emergency landing in a snowstorm in northwestern Iran, killing at least 77 people.

In July 2009, a Russian-made jetliner crashed in northwest Iran shortly after taking off from the capital, killing all 168 on board.

In February, 2003 a Russian-made Ilyushin 76 carrying members of the Revolutionary Guard crashed in the mountains of southeastern Iran, killing 302 people aboard.

(FRANCE 24 with AP, AFP)

Date created : 2014-08-10

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