A Russian-made Iranian passenger plane carrying 168 people crashed shortly after takeoff Wednesday, smashing into a field northwest of the capital and shattering into flaming pieces. All on board were killed in Iran's worst air disaster in six years, officials said.
Before crashing, the plane's tail was on fire as it circled in the air, one witness told The Associated Press.
"Then, I saw the plane crashing nose-down. It hit the ground causing a big explosion. The impact shook the ground like an earthquake. Then, plane pieces were scattered all over the agricultural fields," Ali Akbar Hashemi, a 23-year-old who was laying gas pipes in a nearby home, told AP by phone.
The impact blasted a deep trench in the dirt field, which was littered with smoking wreckage, body parts and personal items from the Tupolev jet, according to photos from the scene. Firefighters put out the flaming wreckage, which officials said was strewn over a 200 yard (meter) area. A large chunk of a wing was visible in footage of the scene, but much of the wreckage appeared to be in small shreds.
Iran has seen numerous crashes in recent years, usually blamed on poor maintenance. Iranian officials often blame U.S. sanctions that prevent it from updating American aircraft bought before the 1979 Islamic revolution and make it difficult to get European spare parts or planes as well.
A Russian-made Iranian passenger plane nearly 170 people crashed shortly after takeoff Wednesday, smashing into a field northwest of the capital and shattering to pieces. State television said all on board were killed.
The plane's tail burst into flames in the air and it circled in the air as if looking for a place to land before it crashed, an unidentified witness told the semi-official ISNA news agency.
The impact gouged a deep trench in the dirt field, which was shown littered with smoking wreckage in footage shown on state TV. It showed a large chunk of a wing, but much of the wreckage appeared to be in small pieces, and emergency workers and witnesses picked around the shredded metal for bodies and flight data recorders to determine the cause of the crash.
The Caspian Airlines Tupolev jet had taken off from Tehran's Imam Khomeini International Airport Wednesday and was headed to the Armenian capital Yerevan. It crashed about 16 minutes after takeoff near the village of Jannat Abad outside the city of Qazvin, around 75 miles northwest of Tehran, civil aviation spokesman Reza Jaafarzadeh told state media.
At Yerevan's airport, Tina Karapetian, 45, said she had been waiting for her sister and the sister's 6- and 11-year-old sons, who were due on the flight. "What will I do without them?" she said, weeping, before she collapsed to the floor.
A newspaper editor seen as close to Iran's top authority today said that defeated election candidate Mirhossein Mousavi and a former pro-reform presi...