168 Dead in Iran Plane Crash

By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 15, 2009 4:45 AM CDT
A Caspian Airlines flight from Tehran to Yerevan crashed in northwest Iran today, according to state media. All 150 passengers are presumed dead.   (©L-plate big cheese)
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(Newser) – A Russian-made passenger plane traveling from Tehran to the Armenian capital of Yerevan crashed in northwest Iran today, killing all 168 people aboard, Iranian state media reports. Television footage showed the smoking wreckage of the plane, and one official said it burst into flames while still airborne. A representative from Caspian Airlines said that most of the passengers were Armenians, with a small number of Georgians also on board.

Caspian is a joint Russian-Iranian carrier that flies Tupolev aircraft. Crashes in Iran are relatively common due to bad maintenance of aging planes, which Iran blames on American sanctions that prevent the importation of new parts. Tupolev passenger planes crashed in Iran in 2002 and 2004, and both American and Russian military aircraft have had disasters.