The above photo shows relatives who gathered at Mehrabad International Airport in Tehran, Iran after a commercial plane crashed, killing all 66 people aboard (including one child). The Associated Press reports that the accident occurred over a mountainous region with the aircraft colliding into Mount Dena, which stands at an altitude of over 14,000 feet. Foggy conditions prevailed, and although investigators haven’t yet pinpointed a cause, the resulting lack of visibility prevented helicopters from quickly reaching the scene.
From the onset, it was feared that no one could have survived the crash, and an airline spokesperson soon confirmed as much:
Aseman Airlines spokesman Mohammad Taghi Tabatabai told state TV that all on Flight No. EP3704 were killed.
“After searching the area, we learned that unfortunately … our dear passengers had lost their lives,” Tabatabai said. “This plane had 60 passengers, 59 adults and one child, as well as a pilot, a co-pilot, two flight attendants and two air marshals on board.”
The New York Times follows up with more details, including how the plane fell off radar screens about 50 minutes after taking flight during a domestic flight. In addition, the publication attributes numerous recent crashes to the country’s “aged” commercial passenger planes — an inevitable result of international sanctions that have continued for decades over Iran’s nuclear program:
The sanctions have prevented the oil-rich country from updating its fleet, forcing it to use substandard Russian planes and to patch up older jets far past their normal years of service, drawing on spare parts bought with increasing difficulty on the black market. Most Iranian planes, including the 727, are forbidden to operate within the European Union.
Last weekend, a Russian passenger plane crashed near Moscow, claiming the lives of all 71 people aboard.