Three British citizens were among 176 passengers and crew killed after a plane crashed in Iran, leaving no survivors.
Ukraine’s foreign ministry confirmed that everyone aboard the Boeing 737 was killed after it came down shortly after it departed from Imam Khomeini International Airport in the Iranian capital of Tehran.
There were three British people on board, as well as citizens from six other countries, according to the Ukraine’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Vadym Prystaiko.
Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine’s president, said his government was working to understand the causes of the crash. He is cutting short a trip to Oman and returning to Kyiv.
“My sincere condolences to the relatives and friends of all passengers and crew,” he said in a statement.
Initially, Ukraine’s embassy in Iran said on Wednesday morning that engine failure caused the plane to crash and denied that it was terror-related or that a rocket had hit the aircraft.
But it later withdrew this statement, saying that anything was possible, and Mr Zelensky instructed Ukraine’s prosecutors to open criminal proceedings over the crash.
Flight data from the airport showed a Ukrainian 737-800 flown by Ukraine International Airlines took off on Wednesday morning, then stopped sending data about eight minutes later, according to tracking website FlightRadar24.
It is not clear whether the incident is related toIran’s missile attacks on US bases in Iraq on Wednesday morning. The Ukraine International Airlines passenger jet that crashed this morning was less than four years old.
Chinese airline becomes latest to avoid Iran
China Southern – a Chinese airline – has cancelled an Urumqi to Tehran flight which was scheduled to depart on Wednesday.
Ukraine withdraws statement ruling out terror or rocket attack
Having initially said the plane crash was due to engine failure and not foul play, there is now a new statement on the Ukrainian embassy website.
It reads: “A commission is working to clarify the causes of the plane crash. Any statements regarding the causes of the accident prior to the findings of the commission are not official.”
The earlier line ruling out terrorism or a rocket attack as possible causes have been removed.
Russia warns against ‘rushed theories’ on crash
Russia has offered its condolences and warned against “rushed theories” about the cause of the crash, Theo Merz reports.
Senator Konstantin Kosachev, the head of the Russian Federation Council Foreign Affairs Committee, wrote on Facebook: “A terrible crash of a Ukrainian airliner in Tehran. It looks like no one survived. Was it a technical malfunction? A mistake of the crew? A terror attack? Only an investigation will show and one must refrain from any rushed theories.”
He said the Russian embassy was working to clarify if there were any of its citizens on board.
“I would like to offer sincere condolences to all the families and loved ones of the deceased, whatever their nationality. We share the Ukrainian people’s grief.”
MP Leonid Slutskiy said on his Telegram messaging channel: “The reasons of the crash are yet to be assessed. The tragedy must not be used for political purposes – sinking to the level of groundless accusations against Tehran or anti-Iranian rhetoric.”
Ukrainian President instructs prosecutors to open criminal proceedings
Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine’s president, said his government was working to understand the causes of the crash.
He has cut short a trip to Oman and returning to Kyiv and instructed Ukraine’s prosecutors to open criminal proceedings over the crash.
Mr Zelenskyy, in a statement on the president’s website, said he had ordered the Prosecutor General of Ukraine to open criminal proceedings over the UIA plane crash in Tehran.
He said: “An investigation commission should be set up of representatives of the civil and aviation agencies responsible for civil aviation. We have to work out all the possible versions.
“Regardless of the conclusions regarding the causes of the Iranian catastrophe, the airworthiness of the entire civilian fleet will be tested.
“I keep all measures on personal control. I very much ask everyone to refrain from speculation and putting forward untested versions of the disaster before the official announcements.”
Russia suspends flights over Iran and Iraq
As the tension in the Middle East heightens, Moscow has called off any flights that use the airspace over Iran and Iraq.
A telegram from the Russia’s Federal Air Transport Agency said: “In connection with the information on the existing risks to the security of international flights of civil aircraft before the subsequent notification, the Federal Air Transport Agency recommends not using the airspace over the territories of Iran, Iraq, the Persian and Oman gulfs for flights of civil aircraft of the Russian Federation, including transit flights.”
Air France has also suspended flights over the region.
‘Nothing wrong with plane’, says Ukrainian airline
Ukrainian International Airlines(UIA) has appeared to bite back at claims its plane came down because of engine failure.
The airline said there was “nothing wrong” with its plane.
It is understood the plane that crashed just outside the Iranian capital last passed a planned technical service just two days ago on Jan 6.
President of UIA Yevgeny Dykhne told a press briefing: “The aircraft was in good condition… We guarantee the serviceability of our aircraft and the high qualification of our crews”
Kyiv confirms British citizens were on board flight
The Ukrainian Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Vadym Prystaiko has revealed the nationalities of those on board.
He said Kyiv is aware of the “following information on the countries of origin of those killed in the crash”.
Flights to Tehran ‘suspended indefinitely’ by Ukrainian airline
Ukraine International Airlines has suspended flights to Tehran indefinitely, according to Reuters.
Boeing ‘aware of media reports’
Boeing spokesman Gordon Johndroe said the company was aware of media reports of a plane crash in Iran and was gathering more information.
Three British citizens on board, says local media
A local media outlet in the Ukraine claims there were British citizens on board.
Ukrainian citizens – 11
Iranian citizens – 82
Canadian citizens – 63
German citizens – 3
UK citizens – 3
Swedish citizens – 10
Afghan citizens – 4
The Foreign Office was not immediately available for comment and the figures from Obozrevatel have not been confirmed.
But the Ukraine Security Council said there were 11 Ukrainians on board, including nine crew, according to Reuters.