A Ukraine Airlines Boeing 737 crashed shortly after take-off in Iran on Wednesday, killing all 176 passengers and nine crew members aboard, Iranian state media reported.
The plane crashed near Imam Khomeini International Airport in southern Tehran “minutes after take-off, when its engine caught fire,” the Islamic Republic News Agency reported.
Photos published from the scene showed emergency response workers arriving at a pile of black, smoldering wreckage.
The plane was carrying 82 Iranian and 63 Canadian nationals, a Ukrainian minister said.
The Boeing 737 was also carrying 11 Ukrainians, 10 Swedes, four Afghans, three Germans and three Britons, Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko wrote on Twitter.
“We are aware of the media reports out of Iran and we are gathering more information,” Boeing tweeted.
The crash comes as the US company continues a months-long effort to get its 737 Max, a newer model, back in the air.
The 737 Max was grounded in March last year by the US Federal Aviation Administration after two Max planes went into catastrophic nosedives after take-off in the span of six months. Nearly 350 passengers and crew were killed in the two crashes.
The Iranian aerospace industry has been hobbled by increasingly far-reaching US sanctions since Washington’s unilateral exit from a nuclear treaty in May 2018. Iranian airlines have been compelled to go to the black market for basic components, even collision-avoidance system processors.
The crash also comes in the midst of open conflict between the US and Iran.
Iran’s military fired roughly a dozen missiles at an Iraqi base where US troops are stationed overnight, in stated retaliation for the US assassination of its top commander, General Qassem Soleimani.
In other news from Iran, AFP reported that a magnitude 4.5 earthquake on Wednesday rattled an area less than 50 kilometers from the Bushehr nuclear power plant near the country’s Gulf coast, a US monitor said.
The quake, which had a depth of 10 kilometers, struck 17 kilometers south-southeast of Borazjan city at 6:49 am, the US Geological Survey said on its website.