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Ukraine plane on fire circled back to Tehran airport after being hit: Report

WASHIGTON, Jan 15: Two Iranian missiles struck down a Ukrainian passenger jet, the New York Times reported Tuesday, posting verified security camera footage showing double projectiles gliding through the sky before hitting their target.

The missiles were fired 30 seconds apart and help explain a mystery as to why the plane’s transponder was not working -- it was disabled by the first strike, before being hit by a second, the Times said.

The Ukraine International Airlines plane was brought down shortly after takeoff on Wednesday, killing all 176 passengers and crew on board.

Tehran had for days denied Western claims based on US intelligence that the Boeing 737 had been downed by a missile.

It came clean on Saturday when Revolutionary Guards aerospace commander Brigadier General Amirali Hajizadeh acknowledged a missile operator had mistaken the plane for a cruise missile and opened fire independently.

The blurry footage shows the plane on fire and circling back to Tehran’s airport, the Times said. Minutes later, it exploded and crashed.

The footage was shot from a rooftop in Bidkaneh, a village four miles from an Iranian military site, the Times said.

Hundreds of angry protesters, most of them students, have taken to the streets in the wake of the tragedy, chanting slogans against the Islamic republic.

Iran announced its first arrests over the accidental shooting on Tuesday, without naming who or how many people had been detained.

Person who posted video of missile striking Ukrainian airliner taken into custody: Report

TEHRAN, Jan 15: A person who posted a video online of a missile striking a Ukrainian airliner in Iran last week has been taken into custody by the elite Revolutionary Guards, the semi-official Fars news agency reported on Tuesday.

The results of the investigation will presented to the public, Fars said, without providing additional details.

The Revolutionary Guards have taken responsibility for the missile strike which caused the plane crash, killing all 176 people aboard.

Iranian president Rouhani says downing of Ukraine jet ‘a great tragedy & unforgivable mistake’

TEHRAN, Jan 11: Iran announced Saturday that its military “unintentionally” shot down the Ukrainian jetliner that crashed earlier this week, killing all 176 aboard, after the government had repeatedly denied Western accusations that it was responsible.

The plane was shot down early Wednesday, hours after Iran launched a ballistic missile attack on two military bases housing U.S. troops in Iraq in retaliation for the killing of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani in an American airstrike in Baghdad. No one was wounded in the attack on the bases.

A military statement carried by state media said the plane was mistaken for a “hostile target” after it turned toward a “sensitive military center” of the Revolutionary Guard. The military was at its “highest level of readiness,” it said, amid the heightened tensions with the United States.

“In such a condition, because of human error and in a unintentional way, the flight was hit,” the military said. It apologized and said it would upgrade its systems to prevent future tragedies.

It also said those responsible for the strike on the plane would be prosecuted.

Iran’s acknowledgement of responsibility for the crash was likely to inflame public sentiment against authorities after Iranians had rallied around their leaders in the wake of Soleimani’s killing. The general was seen as a national icon, and hundreds of thousands of Iranians had turned out for funeral processions across the country.

But the majority of the plane crash victims were Iranians or Iranian-Canadians, and the crash came just weeks after authorities quashed nationwide protests ignited by a hike in gasoline prices.

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani blamed the tragedy on “threats and bullying” by the United States after the killing of Soleimani. He expressed condolences to families of the victims, and he called for a “full investigation” and the prosecution of those responsible.

“A sad day,” Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted. “Human error at time of crisis caused by US adventurism led to disaster. Our profound regrets, apologies and condolences to our people, to the families of all victims, and to other affected nations.”

The jetliner, a Boeing 737 operated by Ukrainian International Airlines, went down on the outskirts of Tehran shortly after taking off from Imam Khomeini International Airport.

Iran had denied for several days that a missile caused the crash. But then the U.S. and Canada, citing intelligence, said they believed Iran shot down the aircraft with a surface-to-air missile, a conclusion supported by videos of the incident.

The plane, en route to the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, was carrying 167 passengers and nine crew members from several countries, including 82 Iranians, at least 57 Canadians and 11 Ukrainians, according to officials. The Canadian government had earlier lowered the nation’s death toll from 63.

“This is the right step for the Iranian government to admit responsibility, and it gives people a step toward closure with this admission,” said Payman Parseyan, a prominent Iranian-Canadian in western Canada who lost a number of friends in the crash.

“I think the investigation would have disclosed it whether they admitted it or not. This will give them an opportunity to save face.”

Ukrainian plane crashes after take-off in Iran, all 176 killed

KIEV, Jan 8: A Ukrainian airliner crashed soon after taking off from Tehran’s Imam Khomeini airport on Wednesday, killing all 176 people aboard, Iran’s state television and Ukraine’s leaders said.

The Boeing 737 belonging to Ukraine International Airlines crashed near the airport and burst into flames. Iranian TV said the crash was due to technical problems but did not elaborate.

Ukraine’s embassy in Iran said the plane had suffered engine failure and the crash was not caused by “terrorism”.

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said there were no survivors.

“My sincere condolences to the relatives and friends of all passengers and crew,” Zelenskiy said in a statement, adding that Ukraine was seeking to establish the circumstances of the crash and the death toll.

Iranian state TV and Ukraine’s prime minister said 167 passengers and 9 crew were on board. Iranian TV said 32 of those on board were foreigners.

Iranian media quoted an Iranian aviation official as saying the pilot of the airliner did not declare an emergency.

There was no official word from Ukraine International Airlines. It was the first fatal crash for Kiev-based UIA.

“The fire is so heavy that we cannot (do) any rescue... we have 22 ambulances, four bus ambulances and a helicopter at the site,” Pirhossein Koulivand, head of Iran’s emergency services, told Iranian state television.

Television footage showed debris and smouldering engine parts strewn across a field, and rescue workers with face masks retrieving bodies of the victims.

According to air tracking service FlightRadar24, the plane that crashed was Flight PS 752 and was flying to Kiev. The plane was three years old and was a Boeing 737-800NG, it said.

The model’s twin engines are made by CFM International, a U.S.-French venture co-owned by General Electric and France’s Safran.

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.

A spokesman for Boeing said the company was aware of media reports of a plane crash in Iran and was gathering more information. The plane manufacturer grounded its 737 MAX fleet in March after two crashes that killed 346 people.

The 737-800 is one of the world’s most-flown models with a good safety record and which does not have the software feature implicated in crashes of the 737 MAX.

 

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