Three Britons and 63 Canadians were among 177 people killed on a Ukrainian passenger plane which crashed near Tehran today, Ukraine has revealed – as officials in Iran asserted that it had suffered a technical failure rather than being shot down.
The Boeing 737 jet came down just three minutes after take-off from Imam Khomeini International Airport in Tehran, sparking fresh alarm in the region just hours after Iran launched a missile attack on US bases in Iraq.
There were no survivors among the 168 passengers and nine crew, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky said.
Video footage tweeted by the BBC’s Iran correspondent, Ali Hashem, appeared to show the plane already burning in the sky before it crashed in a massive explosion.
It sparked speculation that the jet could have been shot down accidentally, with Middle East tensions spiralling after general Qassem Soleimani was killed in a US drone strike.
However, the Ukrainian embassy in Tehran reported that the crash had been caused by an engine failure rather than terrorism or a missile attack.
Iranian officials said the pilot had lost control of the Boeing jet after a fire struck one of the plane’s engines, but said the crew had not reported an emergency and did not say what caused the fire.
The plane was less than four years old and had been checked just two days earlier, a Ukrainian airline official said.
The Ukrainian foreign ministry later revealed there were 82 Iranians, 63 Canadians and three Britons on flight PS752, along with 11 Ukrainians, 10 Swedes, four Afghans and four Germans.
People stand near the wreckage after a Ukrainian plane carrying 177 passengers crashed near Imam Khomeini airport