An image grab taken from Irans satellite English-language official Press TV station shows the wreckage of a plane following an accident in the northeastern Iranian city of Mashhad —AFP Photo

TEHRAN An Iranian passenger plane skidded off the runway during landing in northeast Iran and crashed, leaving its front a tangled mass of wreckage and killing 17 people, the state news agency said.

Footage from Iran's Press TV showed the plane sitting at an angle, its tail awkwardly on the ground and the mangled front end pointing upward. The rest of the craft appeared largely intact.

The IRNA news agency reported that its tires caught fire on landing and it skidded into a wall, though no wall was visible in the footage.

The Russian-made Ilyushin plane from the privately owned Aria Arilines was carrying 153 passengers and flew from the capital Tehran to the north-eastern city of Mashhad, 600 miles away.

Local official Ghahrman Rashid told the state news agency that another 19 people were injured in the crash and that all survivors had been evacuated from the scene.

On July 15, an Iranian passenger plane crashed soon after take off, killing 168 people aboard.

It was the latest in a string of deadly crashes in recent years that have highlighted Iran's difficulties in maintaining its aging fleet of planes.

Iranian airlines, including state-run ones, are chronically strapped for cash, and maintenance has suffered, experts say.

US sanctions prevent Iran from updating its 30-year-old 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.

Iran's worst crash came in February 2003 and also involved a Russian-made Ilyushin, which ploughed into the mountains of south-eastern Iran, killing 302 aboard - mostly members of the elite Revolutionary Guard. —AP

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