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The cause of the crash hasn’t been determined, but sanctions have left Iran with a severe shortage of aircraft parts to modernize its fleet.
An airplane flying from Tehran to the city of Tabas in central Iran crashed shortly after takeoff outside Mehrabad airport, leaving dozens dead, state media reported.
As many as 40 passengers and 8 crew members were killed in the accident earlier this morning, Reza Dehghanpour, head of Tehran Emergency Services, told Iranian state television. Three people with severe burns were taken to a hospital, he said. State-run Mehr news agency put the death toll at 45, saying three had been injured.
The Sepahan Air Iran-140 passenger plane crashed into a residential complex near Tehran airport at about 9:45 a.m. local time, official Islamic Republic News Agency reported, citing Red Crescent spokesman Hossein Derakhshan. Emergency workers have been sent to the site of the crash and investigations are continuing to determine the reason for the accident, Derakhshan said.
The Iran-140 is a domestically assembled version of Ukraine’s Antonov-140. Today’s accident in Iran follows three other fatal airline crashes over the past month, with 2014 shaping up to become the worst year in almost a decade for passenger fatalities.
The crash of a McDonnell Douglas MD-83 aircraft on the edge of the Sahara desert on July 24 followed the loss of an ATR-72 turboprop in storms in Taiwan on July 23 and the downing of Malaysia Air Flight MH17 over Ukraine last month.
Iran has been trying to modernize its foreign-built fleet of jetliners amid international sanctions that block purchases from suppliers such as Chicago-based Boeing Co. and Toulouse, France-based Airbus SAS. Restrictions on purchases of aircraft and parts force have forced Iranian officials in past years to buy used planes and get spare parts on the secondary market, which they say hampers safety and competitiveness.
Iran needs about 400 passenger planes over the next decade once sanctions against the nation are lifted, Ali Reza Jahangirian, the head of country’s Civil Aviation Organization said in May. Iranian airlines have grounded about 90 aircrafts, Iran Air CEO Farhad Parvaresh said in June.
Mehrabad airport, located in the capital, is used mainly for domestic flights while Imam Khomeini Airport outside Tehran handles international flights.
To contact the reporters on this story: Ladane Nasseri in Dubai at firstname.lastname@example.org; Golnar Motevalli in Tehran at email@example.com To contact the editors responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at firstname.lastname@example.org James Kraus, Randall Hackley