72 killed in Iran air crash

TEHRAN. January 10. KAZINFORM Seventy-two people, including 12 crew members, were killed when a passenger plane with 105 people on board crashed Sunday evening in northwest Iran, the semi-official Fars news agency reported early Monday morning. Kazinform refers to Xinhua.

The remaining 33 people were injured, some in bad condition, Fars quoted the latest report of the Coroner Office of Iran's West Azerbaijan province as saying.

The Boeing-727, belonging to the state-owned Iran-Air airline, had been delayed twice due to bad weather in Tehran, which saw brief snow on Sunday morning, said an earlier report by Fars.

The plane took off from Tehran Mehrabad airport at 18:00 local time (1230 GMT) and was about to arrive at the city of Uroumieh at 19:45 local time (1615 GMT). But it crashed near a village some 15 km from Uroumieh minutes before landing, Mr. Jalalzadeh, governor of West Azerbaijan, told Iran state IRINN TV.

"Ten minutes before the plane arrived at the Uroumieh airport, the pilot informed the airport control tower that it cannot land due to the bad whether condition ... and after that it disappeared from the radar," said Jalalzadeh.

Local villagers reported the crash to the authorities, took the injured people out of the plane and rushed them to the nearest hospitals. So far, all the injured passengers had been taken to the hospitals nearby, Jalalzadeh added.

However, another report by Meher news agency quoted the political deputy of West Azerbaijan governor Ebrahim Fathollahi as saying that in his last conversation with the control tower, the pilot said his plane had a technical problem.

The plane crashed and broke into pieces during an emergency landing when there was a low visibility, Fathollahi said.

Experts say the U.S.-imposed sanctions against Iran, which prevent its allies from selling aircraft or aircraft parts to the country, have undermined safety standards within Iran's civil and military aviation fleet and are increasing the likelihood of more air disasters. Kazinform cites Xinhua. See www.xinhuanet.com for full version

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