Archive for Saturday, September 2, 2006

Plane catches fire on landing in Iran, killing 29

September 2, 2006

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— A landing Iranian passenger plane skidded off the runway and raked its wing along the ground, sparking a fire that killed 29 of the 148 people on board Friday in the latest deadly crash of a Russian-made aircraft.

Rescue workers in the northeastern city of Mashhad carried survivors on stretchers out of the gutted craft, which lay in a pool of water near the runway with its middle charred and its roof collapsed. Iranian television footage showed firefighters spraying the engines with water.

"The plane was shaking badly during the landing, then it suddenly lurched to the left," one survivor, Sahar Karimi, said by telephone from a hospital in Mashhad.

"Then it caught fire, and all the passengers rushed to the emergency exit," she said.

State television reported that a tire exploded as the plane landed, but the spokesman for Iran's Civil Aviation Organization, Reza Jafarzadeh, said investigators had not confirmed that and it was still not clear what caused the plane to slide off the runway.

The 11 crew members survived, "and this can help the investigation team to reach its conclusions sooner," he said.

Iranian officials examine the site of a plane crash at the airport in the city of Mashhad, 620 miles northeast of Tehran. A jetliner blew a tire, skidded off a runway and caught fire while landing Friday, killing 29 people.

Iranian officials examine the site of a plane crash at the airport in the city of Mashhad, 620 miles northeast of Tehran. A jetliner blew a tire, skidded off a runway and caught fire while landing Friday, killing 29 people.

The flight by Iran Airtour, which is affiliated with Iran's national air carrier, was arriving from Bandar Abbas on Iran's southern coast when the accident occurred.

The plane slid off the runway, "then its left wing hit the ground and caught fire," civil aviation chairman Nourollah Rezai Niaraki said in a television interview.

He said 29 passengers were killed, correcting an earlier television report of 80 dead.

The craft was a Russian-made Tupolev 154. A Tu-154 owned by Russia's Pulkovo Airlines crashed Aug. 22 in Ukraine while en route from a Russian resort to St. Petersburg, killing all 170 people on board.

In 2002, a Tu-154 - also operated by Iran Airtour - crashed in the mountains of western Iran, killing all 119 aboard.

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