Iran: Plane Smashes Apartment Building
- 116 killed in Iranian military plane crash: 78 journalists among dead
TEHRAN, Dec 6: Around 116 people were killed on Tuesday when an
ageing Iranian military transport plane suffered engine failure and
smashed into a densely populated area of Tehran, setting a high-rise
block ablaze. Official media said all 94 on board the C-130 bought
from the United States before the Islamic revolution nearly three
decades ago died in the crash at the foot of a high-rise housing
block and domestic gas supply depot.
"The plane disintegrated and all the bodies are burned. A young girl
jumped from the window because of the flames. Most of the victims on
the ground are women and children who were at home," said Lieutenant
Nasser Sedigh-Nia, who witnessed the crash.
"The fuel tanks were full, which is why the explosion was so big,"
said the air force officer, one of many airport staff who live in
the area. "Our C-130s are in a bad state because of the US
sanctions: we can't get spare parts."
Among the dead passengers were 78 journalists, 40 of them from state
television, the semi-official Fars news agency reported. They were
flying to the southeastern port city of Charbahar to report on
State radio said several army public relations officers were also on
In total 116 bodies have been recovered, interior ministry spokesman
Mojtaba Mir-Abdolahi said.
State television put the death toll, including the 94 passengers,
at "around 110".
Dozens more people on the ground were reported injured, and anti-
riot police were called in to beat away onlookers blamed for
blocking access for emergency workers.
The four-engine plane encountered engine failure immediately after
take-off from central Tehran's Mehrabad airport, state television
It tried to return for an emergency landing but went down close to
the airport which handles international, domestic and military
flights in the Yaftabad district in the working class south of the
sprawling city, where visibility is very low due to a blanket of a
thick brown-yellow smog.
"I saw the airplane. there was smoke coming out of one engine. It
went into the ground very fast, very close to the building," said 30-
year-old Mohammad Rasooli, a local resident.
"There was a huge explosion which engulfed the housing block." A
local police commander, Nasser Shabani, said many of the dead on the
ground were trapped in the nine-storey building and suffocated from
the smoke or were burned.
In a message carried by state media, Iranian President Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad offered his condolences.
"I learned of the catastrophe and the fact that members of the press
have been martyred," said the president, currently on a visit to
Saudi Arabia. "I offer my condolences to the supreme leader and to
the families of the victims". Iran's air force is believed to have
no more than around 15 of the United States-made C-130s in operation.
It bought the workhorses, also known as Hercules, before the 1979
Islamic revolution when Iran was ruled by the Washington-backed Shah.
A C-130 crashed near Tehran due to technical problems in June 2003,
killing seven people. In February 2000 a C-130 crashed on take-off
and collided with an Iran Air Airbus 300, killing 10 people.AFP
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