Ukrainian Airliner Crashes in Iran, Killing 176

A Ukrainian airliner crashed shortly after take-off from Tehran early on Wednesday, bursting into flames and killing all 176 people on board.

Debris and smouldering engine parts from the Boeing 737, which carrier Ukraine International Airlines said was last serviced two days ago, were strewn across a field southwest of the Iranian capital where rescue workers in face masks laid out scores of body bags.

Among the victims were 82 from Iran, 63 Canadians, 11 Ukrainians, 10 Swedes, three Germans and three Britons, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko said. Most passengers were in transit, the airline said.

The accident occurred as confrontation between Iran and the United States threatens to trigger a wider conflict in the Middle East, but officials cautioned that speculation about the cause of the crash was premature.

It was the Kiev-based carrier’s first fatal accident, and it said it was doing everything possible to establish what had happened.

Under international rules, responsibility for investigating the crash lies with Iran, and Iranian state television said both of the plane’s black boxes had been found.

An amateur video, run by Iranian news agencies and purportedly of the crashed plane, showed a flash in the sky descending rapidly with comments that the aircraft was “on fire”, followed by a larger flash as it appears to hit the ground. Reuters could not independently authenticate the footage.

Asked at a briefing in Kiev if the plane could have been downed by a missile, Ukraine’s Prime Minister Oleksiy Honcharuk cautioned against speculation until the results of the investigation were known.


Relations between Washington and Tehran are in crisis, with Iran having launched missiles at bases housing U.S. forces in Iraq several hours before the plane crash, in retaliation for a U.S. drone strike last week that killed an Iranian military commander.

Major airlines canceled Iran and Iraq flights and re-routed others away from both countries’ airspace following the Iranian missile strikes.

In Paris, the maker of the plane’s engines, French-U.S. firm CFM – co-owned by General Electric and France’s Safran – said any speculation regarding the cause was premature.

Safety experts say airliner accidents are rarely triggered by a single cause and that it typically takes months of investigation to understand all the factors behind them.

An official at Ukraine’s embassy in Tehran said Iranian authorities had asked it to rescind an initial statement from Iran based on preliminary information that had blamed the accident on engine failure.

Iranian TV said the crash was due to unspecified technical problems, and Iranian media quoted a local aviation official as saying the pilot did not declare an emergency.

Offering “sincere condolences” to relatives of victims, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said he had instructed his prosecutor general to open criminal proceedings following the crash, without specifying who they would involve.

Ukraine would test the airworthiness of its entire civilian fleet of aircraft, he added.

Graphic: GRAPHIC-Tehran plane crash –


The plane that crashed was a three-year-old Boeing 737-800NG en route to Kiev. Its last scheduled maintenance was on Jan. 6, the airline said.

A spokesman for the manufacturer said it was gathering more information.

“We are in contact with our airline customer and stand by them in this difficult time. We are ready to assist in any way needed,” the company said in a later statement.

The 737-800 is one of the world’s most-flown models with a good safety record and does not have the software feature implicated in crashes of the 737 MAX. Boeing grounded its 737 MAX fleet in March after two crashes that killed 346 people.

Modern aircraft are designed and certified to cope with an engine failure shortly after take-off and to fly for extended periods on one engine. However, an uncontained engine failure releasing shrapnel can cause damage to other aircraft systems.

Under international rules, Ukraine would be involved in the investigation into Wednesday’s crash, and the United States would usually be accredited as the country where the jet was designed and built. France, where engine maker CFM has half its activities, may also be involved.

There was no immediate word on whether the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board would be involved. The NTSB usually invites Boeing to give technical advice in such investigations.

(Reporting by Babak Dehghanpisheh and Dubai newsroom, Matthias Williams in Kiev, Tim Hepher in Paris; Writing by John Stonestreet; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan, Simon Cameron-Moore and Giles Elgood)


  1. Some conspiracy theories say that Iran air defense, in a heightened state of alert, may have accidentally shot this down

    Let’s wait to see if Iran releases the black box data.

    1. Late night news showed pictures of shrapnel holes in the side of the fuselage of that 737. Even the NTSB spokesman stated it was very possibly shot down. I refer to the “experts” at NTSB and here on IJR.

  2. Who’s to say the Iranians didn’t shoot down their own aircraft in order to put the blame on defective workmanship by Boeing? Blame Trump. It had to be his fault.

  3. It is too early to form an idea of how this tragedy happened. Believe or not, the are EXPERTS who will be called to determine the facts. But, of course, unfounded conspiracies will fly around. Whatever the cause, deepest sympathies and regard to all effected.

    1. The “EXPERTS” are already at work. Read the comment below by the one who admits he’s always confused.

      1. Perhaps GC is correct. (I almost always agree with him. (Thanks, GC) But will the EXPERTS have an unsullied past? CONVERSIVESLIES LIVE!!! (They vote Repub.)

  4. “A Boeing 737 does not simply explode in mid air.” Peter


    Uncontained engine failures are rare but not impossible.

    1. Yes but the most likely scenarios are,

      1 Negligence by the maintenance crew,

      2 Shot at by someone on the ground,

      3 A replacement part wasn’t up to standards and failed.

      4 Someone on the maintenance crew did something to the plane on purpose.

      5 One of the ground crew did something to the plane (through either negligence, or nefarious purpose)

      6 Error by the flight crew

      7 Passenger caused the crash either by negligence or nefarious purpose. (It could be as simple as not removing certain rechargeable batteries from checked luggage)

      But the government’s official line has been a bit suspect given the timing and the rush to get ahead of the story.

  5. I think it is way too early to make any determination or accusations just yet. A lot will depend on how much cooperation the Iranian government provides Ukraine, France and the US in investigating this accident. Providing the black boxes to personnel with much more experience in evaluating the information on them would help. Hiding or retaining those black boxes will not show a sign of good faith.

    1. “The victims include 82 Iranians, 63 Canadians, 11 Ukrainians in addition to nine Ukrainian crew members, 10 Swedes, four Afghans, three Germans and three Britons, according to Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry. More than 140 passengers were Iranian nationals, according to Iranian officials, suggesting that many possessed dual citizenship.” AP

  6. Yeah because planes that were checked days prior and had absolutely nothing wrong just burst into flames during rocket strikes in Iran. It definitely wasn’t Iran being the cowardly terrorist scumbags that they are likely hoping to pin the blame on the US somehow, or hoping there were Americans on board said civilian plane.

  7. Let’s give it a little time. Sorry for the lives lost.

  8. Does RotoReuters ever “authenticate” anything?

  9. A Boeing 737 does not simply explode in mid air. The fact that “authorities” are cautioning not to speculate, means they know what happened and are trying to find a way to cover it up. We have seen that pattern before, and it failed back then, as it will fail now. My gut feeling on this is that Iran shot it down, thinking it was an American flight, only to discover it was not. Now they are going to scramble to cover it up, or to lay blame on America.

  10. Let the conspiracy theories begin. The more sarcastic and far fetched the better.

    Trump used secret “voodoo dolls” hidden in the basement of Barron’s school dormitory to cause this tragedy in the hopes of framing the peaceful nation of Iran and thus starting the next Great War.

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