39 dead as plane crashes in Tehran

28 Nov 2006

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TEHRAN, Nov 27: An Iranian military plane crashed on takeoff at Tehran's Mehrabad airport early Monday killing all 39 people on board, including 30 members of the Revolutionary Guards, police said.

A high-ranking Iranian police commander, Eskandar Moemeni, told the Fars news agency that three people who initially survived the crash of the Antonov 74 died on their way to hospital.

“An engine failure and veering from the runway resulted in the crash,” he said, adding that the others killed were crew members.

Iranian television showed wreckage of the camouflage-coloured plane lying strewn across a field next to the runway, surrounded by ambulances. A crane was shown trying to take some of the pieces of the fuselage away.

The chief commander of the Islamic republic's Revolutionary Guards, General Yahya Rahim Safavi, did not rule out sabotage but added it was “too soon to elaborate on the cause of the crash until the investigations are over”. State television said the Revolutionary Guards had appointed an investigation team and that its finding would be made public.

“(The plane) crashed at the end of the runway, at 7:12 local time (03:42 GMT) and burst into flames,” said Ahmad Haghtalab, Revolutionary Guards commander in charge of security of Iranian airports.—AFP