Plane crashes in Iran

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The Independent Online

An Iranian military transport plane crashed into a 10-story apartment building in the suburbs of the capital Tehran today, killing at least 119 people, according to state media and the city's mayor.

All 94 passengers and crew of the plane were killed, the mayor of Tehran, Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, told The Associated Press.

Tehran state radio said that of the building's residents, 25 people were killed and 15 were injured.

Fire-fighters managed to extinguish the fire in the building, which was damaged and charred but still standing. The plane's wreckage was scattered around the building, which police cordoned off.

"It was like an earthquake," said local merchant Reza Sadeqi, 25, who saw the plane hit the building. "The force of the crash threw me about 3 metres inside my shop.

"I felt the heat of the fire caused by the crash. It was like being in hell," Sadeqi said.

The C-130 aircraft hit the building while coming in to land at Tehran's Mehrabad airport, state television reported. The building is in the Towhid residential complex, a series of high-rise apartment buildings for army personnel.

Thousands of people quickly gathered at the crash site. Many screaming out of fear that their relatives had been killed.

The plane, which belonged to the Army's air force, was carrying 84 passengers and 10 crew, the television reported. The official Islamic Republic News Agency said the passengers were journalists who were going to cover a military manoeuvre in southern Iran.

It had taken off from Mehrabad airport and was heading to Bandar Abbas, a port city in southern Iran.

The plane crashed due to a technical failure as it was trying to make an emergency landing, the television said.

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