39 killed as passenger plane crashes in Iran

An Iranian passenger plane on a domestic route crashed into a Tehran suburb shortly after takeoff early Sunday, killing 39 and leaving nine injured, according to official accounts.

There were unconfirmed reports that three survivors were being treated for severe burns.

The Antonov An-140 turboprop aircraft operated by Sephahan Airlines was scheduled to fly from Mehrabad Airport to the eastern city of Tabas when it plummeted to the ground in the suburb of Azadi about 9:18 a.m. local time, officials said.

Thick plumes of black smoke billowed from the crash site as firefighters and rescue workers converged on the chaotic scene.


Some relatives of passengers on the plane rushed to the area and were seen sobbing as they viewed the smoldering wreckage, cordoned off by police.

There were reports of several injured on the ground, possibly soldiers at a nearby military airbase that may have been in the path of the plunging aircraft.

Initial indications were that engine failure was to blame for the disaster, the Iranian media reported.

Mehrabad Airport in western Tehran is the nation’s principal domestic hub, with flights to many Iranian cities. Most international flights depart from Imam Khomeini International Airport, southwest of Tehran.

Iran has suffered a series of plane crashes, blamed on an aging fleet, a poor maintenance record and a lack of spare parts and access to new aircraft because of international sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

Mostaghim is a special correspondent. Times staff writer Patrick J. McDonnell in Irbil, Iraq, contributed to this report.