An Iranian passenger plane with 66 people on board has crashed in central Iran during a flight from Tehran to the city of Yasuj, in the Zagros mountains in Iran.
Sixty-six people are feared to have been killed in a passenger plane crash, where sixty passengers, two security guards, two flight attendants and the pilot and co-pilot were on board.
The flight, which departed at 7:55 a.m. local time (11.25 p.m. ET Saturday), crashed in Kohangan village, 120 kilometers (74 miles) from Semirom town.
The Aseman Airlines plane, en route from Tehran to the south-western city of Yasuj, came down near the city of Semirom in Isfahan province.
The Red Crescent deployed search and rescue teams to the site. The airline has retracted a statement saying definitively that all aboard were dead.
Iran Aseman Airlines is a semi-private air carrier headquartered in Tehran that specialises in flights to remote airfields across the country and also flies internationally.
The ATR-72, a twin-engine turboprop, is used for short-distance regional flying. Authorities said they would be investigating the cause of the air crash.
Iran Aseman Airlines has dismissed the possibility of technical failure, pinning the blame solely on bad weather.
However, local news media reported that the ill-fated aircraft had technical problems in the past few weeks.
Saj Ahmad, chief analyst at Strategic Aero Research Centre, told Al Jazeera that it was “premature to rule out anything”.
“Granted, weather may have been an issue, but it’s too early to speculate,” he said.
The airline initially said everyone had been killed, but said later: “Given the special circumstances of the region, we still have no access to the spot of the crash and therefore we cannot accurately and definitely confirm the death of all passengers of this plane.”
Bad weather, including fog and heavy snow, has hampered rescue efforts. Emergency teams have had to travel to the crash site by land rather than using a helicopter.
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani expressed sympathy for all involved, saying, in a statement, that the incident brought “great grief and sorrow”.
Aseman, Iran’s third largest airline, signed a contract with Boeing last year to buy 30 of its latest medium-range 737s.
The crashed plane, a French-Italian-made ATR 72-500, was 25 years old, Iran’s civil aviation organisation said.
Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has also expressed “deep sympathy” for relatives of those on board, saying the accident “saddened the hearts”.
Image Source: MEHRAD WATSON