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Death Toll Reduced In Iran Plane Fire

Rescue workers on the scene of the crash in Mashhad (Fars) September 1, 2006 -- Twenty-nine people were killed and 43 injured when a Russian-built Tu-154 airliner caught fire today after landing in the northeastern Iranian city of Mashhad.

Some 75 people survived the accident, including the flight crew. Earlier reports had put the death toll as high as 80.

In remarks on state television, Iran's civil aviation chief, Nurollah Rezai Niaraki, said the plane's left wing hit the ground and caught fire after the plane skidded off the runway. State television reported that a tire burst during landing.

The flight, which was carrying some 150 passengers and crew, was arriving from the southern Iranian port city of Bandar-e Abbas.

"A team of experts from Iran's Civil Aviation Organization has been created, and it's their responsibility to [investigate] the issue," said Mehdi Sadeghi, president of Iran Air Tours, which operated the flight. "They will announce the actual cause of the incident."

A Tu-154 flying from southern Russia to St. Petersburg crashed in eastern Ukraine on August 22, killing all 170 on board. Bad weather was the most likely cause.

Iran has a poor safety record, with a string of crashes in recent decades, many involving Russian-made aircraft.

(compiled from agency reports)

Iranian Aviation Disasters

Iranian Aviation Disasters
People gather near the scene after a C-130 crashed in a residential area of Tehran on December 6, 2005 (epa)

VICTIMS OF SANCTIONS? Iran has a history of aircraft accidents involving a heavy loss of life. In the past, the government has often blamed a U.S. trade embargo, which made it impossible for Iran to buy parts for its old U.S.-built aircraft. The United States introduced sanctions against Iran following the 1979 Islamic Revolution and the seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. The embargo on aircraft parts was partly lifted in October. Many of the Iranian crashes in recent years have involved older and heavily used Russian aircraft.

September 1, 2006: A Russian-built Tu-154 passenger airliner with about 150 people on board catches fire after landing in the northeastern city of Mashhad, killing 29 and injuring scores more. Authorities say a wing struck the ground and burst into flames when the plane skidded off the runway.

January 9, 2006: An Iranian military plane crashes in northwest Iran, killing 13 on board, including a senior Revolutionary Guard commander, police and news agencies reported.

December 6, 2005: A military C-130 aircraft carrying more than 90 people slams into a residential area in southern Tehran.

February 10, 2004: A Kish airlines Fokker-50 plane crashes during landing in Sharjah airport in the United Arab Emirates, killing 43 of the 45 passengers and crew aboard.

February 19, 2003: An Iranian Ilyushin-76 troop carrier crashes in southeastern Iran, killing all 276 Revolutionary Guard soldiers and crew aboard.

December 23, 2002: A Ukrainian An-140 crashes into a mountain in central Iran, killing all 46 aboard. Most of the passengers were top Ukrainian and Russian aerospace officials traveling to Iran to test fly an Iranian-built copy of the plane. The crash was blamed on pilot error.

February 12, 2002: An Iran Air Tours Tu-154 crashes near the western city of Khorramabad. All 119 people aboard are killed.

May 17, 2001: A Russian Yak-40 plane carrying 29 people, including Iran's transport minister, Rahman Dadman, and other deputy ministers crashes in northern Iran killing all on board.

February 2, 2000: An Iranian Air Force C-130 loses control during take-off from Tehran and crashes into an empty Iran Air A-300. Both planes are destroyed and all six aboard the C-130 are killed.

March 14, 1997: An Iranian military plane with about 80 people on board crashes in a mountainous region in north-east Iran, killing all passengers and crew.

October 12, 1994: An Aseman Airline Fokker F-28 crashes on an Iranian flight from Isfahan to Tehran, killing all 66 aboard. It crashes near Natanz, 150 miles south of Tehran.

March 17, 1994: A C-130 Hercules transport plane carrying Iranian women and children home for the Iranian new year crashes in the disputed Caucasus enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh, killing 19 passengers and 13 crew.

February 8, 1993: An Iranian airliner chartered by Iran Air Tours crashes after colliding with a military Sukhoi plane, killing all 132 on board. The pilot and co-pilot of the military plane are also killed.

July 3, 1988: An Iran Air A-300 Airbus is shot down over the Gulf by the U.S. warship "Vincennes," which wrongly identifies it as an attacking fighter. All 290 people on board are killed.

November 3, 1986: An Iranian Hercules C-130 army transport plane crashes into a mountain while trying to land at Zahedan airport, killing all 103 on board.

(compiled by RFE/RL)


RFE/RL's coverage of Iran.