Iran plane crash: Ukraine deletes statement attributing disaster to engine failure

No explanation offered after page vanishes from official site

Oliver Carroll
Moscow
Wednesday 08 January 2020 12:00
Comments
Iran plane crash: Ukrainian Boeing 737 passenger jet carrying 177 comes down

Ukraine’s embassy in Iran has appeared to delete a statement suggesting technical problems were to blame for the crash of a passenger jet near Tehran on Wednesday morning.

That statement appeared to back up earlier assertions by Iranian officials that a faulty engine had led to the accident.

“According to preliminary information,” the statement had read, “the plane crashed as a result of a technical failure of the engine. The possibility of a terrorist attack or missile strike are currently ruled out.”

But by 10am local time, that page was no longer accessible from the embassy’s site, with no additional information given about the details of the crash.

Later, a new statement appeared at the same web address saying that it was for an official commission to determine the cause of the accident.

There was no immediate explanation for the apparent retraction.

Flight PS752, a Boeing 737-800, took off from Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport at 6:12 am, losing contact two minutes later. The crash happened a few hours after Iran launched missile strikes on US military bases in Iraq.

According to aviation authorities, there were 167 passengers and 9 crew on board. The vast majority of those on board were Iranian (82) and Canadian (63) citizens.

Tehran was quick to blame technical problems for the crash. Qassem Biniaz, a spokesman for Iran’s Road and Transportation Ministry, said the pilot “lost control of the plane” after a fire broke out in one of its engines.

Modern aircraft engines are designed to withstand the failure of an engine, even if it catches fire. What seems to be unusual in this case is that after a normal climb, the plane stopped sending all data at around 8000 feet. That would seem to suggest a catastrophic incident of some sort.

Clues will likely be contained in the plane’s flight recorders, which were recovered shortly after the crash. Iran’s civil aviation authorities said they would not follow normal practice of sending the boxes to US-plane manufacturer Boeing, but declined to say who would be responsible for analysing the data.

At a hastily arranged press conference on Wednesday morning, Ukrainian International Airlines (UIA) discounted the possibility of technical problems. There was “nothing wrong” with the aircraft, UIA’s president Yevgen ​Dykhne insisted. The plane was three years old and had only two days previously undergone a scheduled technical check.

“We guarantee the safety of our aircraft and the high qualification of our crews,” he said.

The airline announced it would be suspending all flights to Iran until further notice.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in