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Passenger plane crashes in Iran: 66 people on board dead, state reports

All 66 people on board are feared dead after an Iranian commercial aircraft crashed into a mountain in a southern Iran valley this morning (Sunday).

According to local media reports, the ATR-72, a twin-engine turboprop operated by Aseman Airlines, crashed in the close vicinity of the remote mountain town of Semirom, which is located approximately 400 miles south of the Iranian capital city Tehran. All 66 people on board, including at least 1 child, are reported dead.

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Bad weather adding to woes

Eyewitnesses told local media that the aircraft was attempting to make an emergency landing, but instead hit the Dena mountain range. There was a dense fog in the area, making it difficult for rescue helicopters to land immediately at the accident spot.

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Bad connectivity through roads and mountainous landscape hindered rescue team efforts, with helicopters being mobilized to fly rescue teams to the accident spot to search for survivors. Iran Red Crescent is aiding the rescue team.

Ill-fated ATR 72

The flight was heading from Tehran to Yasuj, the capital of Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad Province, Iran. It had a capacity of carrying nearly 70 passengers and crew. At the time of crash, 66 individuals were on board.

The plane lost contact with radar 20 minutes after taking off from Tehran Mehrabad International Airport at about 5.50am local time, local reports state.

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Who is to blame?

The aircraft involved in Sunday’s morning crash was nearly two decades old.

Recent reports have highlighted that Iran’s commercial passenger aircraft fleet has aged, leading to frequent air accidents. Due to years of global sanctions, Iran has faced difficulty in refurbishing its air fleet.

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However, after the 2015 landmark nuclear deal with world powers, Iran had inked pacts with aircraft manufacturers, such as Airbus and Boeing, to buy dozens of new passenger planes.

Aseman Airlines is Iran’s third-largest airline by active fleet size and is based in Tehran.