TEHRAN, Jan 7 - A Ukrainian airplane carrying 180 passengers and crew crashed Wednesday near an airport in Tehran, AP reported citing the Iranian state television. There was no immediate word on casualties.
The plane had taken off from Imam Khomeini International Airport, the report said. The crash is suspected to have been caused by mechanical issues, it added, without elaborating. Several social media reports on Twitter suggested it may have been hit by an Iranian anti-aircraft missile.
An investigation team was at the site of the crash in southwestern outskirts of Tehran, civil aviation spokesman Reza Jafarzadeh said.
The crash came hours after Iran launched a ballistic missile attack targeting two bases in Iraq housing U.S. forces in retaliation for the killing of Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani.
Flight data from the airport showed a Ukrainian Boeing 737-800 flown by Ukraine International Airlines took off Wednesday morning, then stopped sending data almost immediately afterward, according to website FlightRadar24. The airline did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
A video posted on social media from Tehran shows a burning plane in the night sky rapidly descending and crashing into the darkness.
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued warning earlier Tuesday barring U.S. pilots and carriers from flying over areas of Iraqi, Iranian and some Persian Gulf airspace. The region is a major East-West travel hub and home to Emirates airline and Dubai International Airport, the world’s busiest for international travel.
The FAA earlier issued warnings after Iran shot down a U.S. military surveillance drone last year that saw airlines plan new routes to avoid the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf.
Iran launched a dozen of missiles on Tuesday targeting two military bases in Iraq housing American troops in a major escalation between the two longtime foes.
‘All is well!’ President Donald Trump tweeted shortly after the missile attacks, adding, ‘So far, so good’ regarding casualties. Moments earlier, Iran’s foreign minister tweeted that Tehran had taken “& concluded proportionate measures in self-defense,” adding that Tehran did “not seek escalation” but would defend itself against further aggression.
Soleimani’s killing and the strikes by Iran came as tensions have been rising steadily across the Mideast after Trump’s decision to unilaterally withdraw America from Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers.
They also marked the first time in recent years that Washington and Tehran have attacked each other directly rather than through proxies in the region. It raised the chances of open conflict erupting between the two enemies, who have been at odds since Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution and the subsequent U.S. Embassy takeover and hostage crisis. (ap/ez)