TEHRAN: A Ukrainian airliner burst into flames shortly after take-off from Tehran on Wednesday, killing all 176 people aboard in a crash that an initial report blamed on engine failure.
Debris and smouldering engine parts were strewn across a field around 10 km (six miles) from Imam Khomeini airport as rescue workers with face masks retrieved bodies of the victims.
Ukraine’s embassy in Iran, citing preliminary information, said the Boeing 737 suffered engine failure and the crash was not caused by “terrorism”.
Carrier Ukraine International Airlines said it was doing everything possible to confirm the cause, and the investigation would also involve Boeing and Ukrainian and Iranian authorities. It was the Kyiv-based airline’s first fatal accident.
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said all on board had died.
“My sincere condolences to the relatives and friends of all passengers and crew,” he said in a statement.
He warned against speculation about the crash.
“I ask everyone to keep from speculating and putting forth unconfirmed theories about the crash,” he wrote on Facebook, as he cut short a vacation in Oman and flew back to Ukraine.
The 737-800 is one of the worlds most-flown models with a good safety record and does not have the software feature implicated in crashes of the 737 MAX. Boeing grounded its 737 MAX fleet in March after two crashes that killed 346 people.
The 737-800’s twin engines are made by CFM International, a US-French venture co-owned by General Electric and Frances Safran.