TEHRAN – An Iranian transportation official says 39 people were killed and nine wounded when a regional passenger plane crashed Sunday while taking off from the capital, Tehran.
Deputy Minister of Transportation Ahmad Majidi provided the latest casualty figures in an appearance on state TV. The channel had earlier reported that all 48 people onboard had died.
The aircraft, an Iran-140 typically used for short domestic flights, crashed near Mehrabad airport, west of Tehran, Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency reported. It went down in a residential area after its engine went out, the agency reported.
The aircraft, operated by Sepahan Air, was heading to Tabas, a town in eastern Iran. It took off at 9:20 a.m. local time and crashed shortly afterward.
The Iran-140 is a 52-seat passenger plane produced in Iran with Ukrainian technology.
Iran has suffered a series of airplane crashes, blamed on its aging aircraft and poor maintenance. Many of the Boeing aircraft in state-run Iran Air’s fleet were bought before the country’s 1979 Islamic Revolution, which disrupted ties with the U.S. and Europe.
Iranian airlines, including those run by the state, are chronically strapped for cash, and maintenance has suffered, experts say. U.S. sanctions prevent Iran from updating its American aircraft and make it difficult to get European spare parts or planes as well. The country has come to rely on Russian aircraft, many of them Soviet-era planes that are harder to get parts for since the Soviet Union’s fall.
The last major airliner crash in Iran happened in January 2011, when an Iran Air Boeing 727 broke to pieces on impact while attempting an emergency landing in a snowstorm in northwestern Iran, killing at least 77 people.
In July 2009, a Russian-made jetliner crashed in northwest Iran shortly after taking off from the capital, killing all 168 on board.
In February 2003 a Russian-made Ilyushin 76 carrying members of the Revolutionary Guard crashed in the mountains of southeastern Iran, killing 302 people aboard.