At least 38 killed in plane crash in Tehran's airport
An Iran-140 Sepahan Air passenger plane bound for Tabas in northeast Iran with 48 passengers and crew on board crashed on a road near Tehran's Mehrabad airport today, killing at least 38 people, Iranian state media reported.
Initial reports said that all passengers and crew on board had been killed, but state media later reported that some passengers had been injured and transferred to hospital.
Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) said that eight or nine had survived and quoted a doctor as saying that one of the injured had regained consciousness.
State television said 38 people died instantly and 10 were injured and were transferred to hospital in critical condition.
Iranian Student News Agency (ISNA) reported that five had been taken to hospital, but cited a doctor at Imam Hospital as saying they had died.
The Civil Aviation Authority said the passengers included two infants and three children under the age of 12, IRNA reported.
The pilot detected technical issues four minutes after takeoff and tried to return to the airport, state television said, but the twin-engine turboprop crashed on a road at 9.18 am local time. One eyewitness said the plane crashed into a wall.
A photograph on IRNA's website showed a huge plume of black smoke billowing over traffic standing at a road intersection. A photograph from the Iran Student News Agency showed a charred tailfin lying on the ground.
The plane's black box has yet to be found, the deputy minister of Roads and Urban Development said.
Iran's airlines have been plagued by crashes, which Iranian politicians blame on international sanctions that block the airlines from replacing their ageing fleets. About 14 crashes involving Iranian planes were reported in the decade to January 2011.
For years, planes have been kept in service through parts imported on the black market, cannibalised from other planes or reproduced locally, aviation sources say.
Iran's four largest carriers - Iran Air, Iran Aseman Airlines, Mahan Air and Iran Air Tours - all have average fleet ages above 22 years, Iranian media have reported. They serve a market of 76 million people.