An Iranian passenger plane crashed Sunday moments after takeoff from Tehran, killing at least 38 on board and narrowly avoiding many more deaths when it plummeted near a busy market.
The plane was headed to the eastern city of Tabas, the IRNA and Fars news agencies said, when it crashed at 9.18 am (0448 GMT), after leaving Mehrabad airport.
It triggered a fireball when it smashed into the capital’s Azadi neighborhood, close to where hundreds of military families live, and only a few hundred meters (yards) from a row of shops.
Iran’s deputy transport minister, Ahmad Majidi, said the Antonov An-140 turboprop plane had 40 passengers, including six children, and eight crew on board, and he put the death toll at 38.
A fire official initially said all on board had been killed but Fars later reported that 37 bodies were sent to the morgue and IRNA said nine people were hospitalised, two of them critically injured.
Mehrabad airport is near central Tehran and it is by far the country’s busiest domestic hub, serving routes to all major Iranian cities. Most international passenger flights take off from Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport, which is located further west of the capital.
Iran’s last major air crash was in January 2011, when an Iran Air Boeing 727 shattered on impact while attempting an emergency landing in a snowstorm in the country’s northwest, killing 77 people.