A Ukrainian airliner that crashed shortly after taking off from Tehran airport on Wednesday was on fire immediately before the deadly accident, according to initial findings of Iranian investigators, Reuters reports.
Iran’s civil aviation organization, in a preliminary investigation report, cited witnesses on the ground and in a passing aircraft flying at high altitude as saying that the jet was on fire while still aloft, according to the news agency.
The Ukrainian International Airlines Boeing 737-800, flying to Kiev and carrying mostly Iranians and Iranian-Canadians, crashed on the outskirts of Tehran, killing all 176 on board.
The three-year-old Boeing jet, which had its last scheduled maintenance on Jan. 6, encountered a technical problem shortly after take-off and started to head toward a nearby airport before it crashed, the Iran investigation report said.
The technical problem was not specified in the report. However, a Canadian security source told Reuters there was evidence one of the jet’s engines overheated.
The crash occurred hours after Iran launched missile attacks on US-led forces in Iraq, leading some to speculate that the plane may have been hit.
In Kiev, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said the government was considering several possible causes of the plane crash.
In a television statement Zelenskiy asked people to refrain from speculation, conspiracy theories and hasty evaluations regarding the crash. He also declared Jan. 9 a day of national mourning.
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