66 feared dead as plane crashes in Iran mountains

All 66 people on board an Iranian passenger plane were feared dead on Sunday after it crashed into the country’s Zagros mountains, with emergency services struggling to locate the wreckage in blizzard conditions. Aseman Airlines flight EP3704 disappeared from radar around 45 minutes after takeoff from Tehran’s Mehrabad airport, the airline’s public relations chief Mohammad Tabatabai told state broadcaster IRIB. It was the third disaster to strike Iran in recent months, after an earthquake that killed at least 620 people in Kermanshah in November and 30 Iranian sailors were lost in an oil tanker collision off China’s coast last month. The ATR-72 twin-engine plane, in service for 25 years, left the capital around 0800 (0430 GMT) and was heading towards the city of Yasuj, some 500 kilometres (300 miles) to the south. After conflicting reports on fatalities and the location of the crash, officials said rescue teams were still not able to find the wreckage. “We still have no access to the spot of the crash and therefore we cannot accurately and definitely confirm the death of all passengers,” Tabatabai told the ISNA news agency. He said the plane was carrying 60 passengers, including one child, as well as six crew. Jalal Pooranfar, regional head for Iran’s emergency services, told the ISNA news agency rescue and relief teams had been sent to the possible area of the crash. “But the helicopter could not continue its path due to snow and blizzard,” he said. Seyed Noor Mohammad Mousavi, head of the… [Read full story]

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