132 die in Iranian plane crash (CORRECTED)

CORRECTION (PUBLISHED 26 FEBRUARY 1993) APPENDED TO THIS ARTICLE

AN IRANIAN airliner carrying Muslim pilgrims collided with a military plane and exploded yesterday, killing all 132 people on board just minutes after they had left Tehran's main airport, civil aviation authorities said.

Witnesses said passengers were blown out of the plane after the nose of the military plane crashed into the tail of the passenger jet, Iran's Islamic Republic News Agency (Irna) reported.

Most of the wreckage of Flight 962 fell in a 500sq metre (600sq yard) open area on a military base, Irna said. It missed the heavily populated areas that have sprouted up around Tehran's notoriously dangerous Mehrabad airport.

The airliner was bound for the holy city of Mashhad when the accident occurred at 10.15am in clear skies. All 119 passengers and crew of 13, including the Russian pilot, were killed, Irna quoted Iran's civil aviation organisation as reporting.

One witness said that two military jets were flying near the Russian-built Tupolev airliner when one of them hit its tail. Two explosions were heard, the sky filled with smoke, and passengers and pieces of the plane tumbled to earth, Irna reported.

Mehrabad airport serves both military and civilian aircraft. Pilots have complained frequently of near-collisions, especially during Iran's eight-year war with Iraq when military flights were more numerous.

Mashhad, a city of about 500,000 people, is the capital of Khorasan province, not far from Turkmenistan and Afghanistan. The city is home to the tomb of Reza, the eighth imam of Shia Islam and is one of Iran's most important religious shrines.

It was not clear how many of the passengers were pilgrims, although flight reservations to Mashhad are booked by pilgrims for months in advance.

Technicians at Iran Air complain about the practice, imposed by the higher clerical hierarchy, of leasing planes from Russia, because of the lack of standard safety levels and maintenance regulations for which Aeroflot and the Russian civil aviation authorities are known.

The Tupolev passenger plane which crashed had been chartered by Iran Air Tours, apparently from Aeroflot which, since the collapse of the Soviet Union, has split into numerous republican and regional airlines.

The technical director of Aeroflot in Russia, Gennady Anikaev, said the plane was not from his republic's fleet but could have come from Uzbekistan or one of the other Central Asian states.

Although pilot error seems to have been behind yesterday's tragedy, there are concerns about the standard of maintenance of planes being rented out mostly to the Third World by nations of the former Soviet Union. A plane which crashed recently in India had come from Uzbekistan.

Mr Anikaev said Russia still had strict controls but 'I cannot speak for the other republics. Anything could be happening there, especially when you consider that some, like Tajikistan, are going through civil war.'

The leasing business is very profitable and about 50 aircraft from the former Soviet Union are currently on hire. About half belong to Russia, which has sent planes for up to five years to China, Turkey and various African countries. A year's rent for a Tupolev-154 is dollars 2m ( pounds 1.38m).

However, the money is a drop in the ocean compared with the needs of the deeply troubled airline which was once the biggest in the world, employing 600,000 people and running 3,000 aircraft. Now it is beset by a host of problems, including constant shortages of fuel and spare parts. On domestic flights, it is not unusual for passengers to be kept waiting at airports for three or four days to board 30-year-old planes where passengers stand in the aisles as on crowded city buses.

CORRECTION

IN OUR 9 February coverage of the Tehran airport crash the previous day we reported an Aeroflot official as saying that the plane could have come from Uzbekistan or one of the other Central Asian states. Uzbekistan Airways has asked us to point out that it did not own or have any connection with the crashed airliner and further that, as an internationally recognised airline which flies regularly to and from Heathrow, it is required to, and we are assured that it does, comply with all international safety and maintenance standards.

Voices
A Russian hunter at the Medved bear-hunting lodge in Siberia
Save the tigerWildlife charities turn to those who kill animals to help save them
News
Davis says: 'My career has been about filling a niche - there were fewer short actors and fewer roles – but now I'm being offered all kinds of things'
PeopleWarwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
News
i100
Sport
Frank Lampard will pass Billy Wright and equal Bobby Charton’s caps tally of 106 caps against
sportFormer Chelsea midfielder in Etihad stopgap before New York contract
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
The first film introduced Daniel Radcliffe to our screens, pictured here as he prepares to board the train to Hogwarts for the first time.
booksHow reading Harry Potter helps children grow up to be gay-friendly
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Aladdin is performed at the Tony Awards in New York in June
theatreBrit producer Lythgoe makes kids' musical comedy a Los Angeles hit
Sport
Usain Bolt of Jamaica smiles and shakes hands with a competitor after Jamaica won their first heat in the men's 4x100m relay
sport
News
Chancellor George Osborne, along with the Prime Minister, have been 'complacently claiming the economy is now fixed', according to shadow Chancellor Ed Balls
i100... which is awkward, because he is their boss, after all
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

(Senior) IT Support Engineer - 1st-3rd Line Support

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful IT service provider that has bee...

Wind Farm Civil Design Engineer

£55000 - £65000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Principal Marine Mechanical Engineer

£60000 - £70000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Principle Geotechnical Engineer

£55000 - £65000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Day In a Page

Save the Tiger: Meet the hunters tasked with protecting Russia's rare Amur tiger

Hunters protect Russia's rare Amur tiger

In an unusual move, wildlife charities have enlisted those who kill animals to help save them. Oliver Poole travels to Siberia to investigate
Transfers: How has your club fared in summer sales?

How has your club fared in summer sales?

Who have bagged the bargain buys and who have landed the giant turkeys
Warwick Davis: The British actor on Ricky Gervais, how the Harry Potter set became his office, and why he'd like to play a spy

'I'm a realist; I know how hard this business is'

Warwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
The best swim shorts for men: Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer

The best swim shorts for men

Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer
Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Meet the couple blamed for bringing Lucifer into local politics
Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup