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17 killed in plane crash in northeast Iran

AT least 17 people were killed when a passenger plane caught fire during its landing in northeastern Iran yesterday, the state IRNA news agency reported.

The plane from Iran's Aria Air airline with 153 passengers on board caught fire and skidded into walls near the runway during its landing in the northeastern Iranian city of Mashhad, said the report.

The accident, which happened at 18:10 local time (1340 GMT), also injured another 19 people, IRNA said.

Deputy Governor of Khorasan Razavi Province Qahreman Rashid was quoted as saying that Aria Air's managing director Mehdi Dadpay was among the victims of the plane incident.

All survivors in the plane had been evacuated from the crash scene and the fire had been completely under control, Rashid said.

The cause of the incident was under investigation, he added.

Video aired by Iran's English-language satellite channel Press TV showed that the cockpit of the Russian-made Ilyushin Il-62 plane, which was travelling from Tehran to Mashhad, was totally damaged.

State television reported that the plane was apparently flying too fast when it tried to land on the airport and the accident might be due to a malfunction of the front wheels.

The plane was leased by Aria Air from Kazakhstan, state television said, adding that 13 of the victims were crew members, nine of whom were from Kazakhstan.

It was the second deadly air accident involving an Iranian airliner within 10 days. On July 15, a Caspian Airlines plane crashed near the northwestern city of Qazvin, killing all 168 people on board.

The Russia-made Tupolev passenger plane had been traveling from Tehran to the Armenian capital of Yerevan.

The cause of the disaster was not clear so far, but the officials have attributed the incident to the technical problems of the Caspian Airlines plane.

In the past, Iran's airlines have suffered a number of flight disasters, both civil and military use.

Experts believe that the U.S.-imposed sanctions against Iran, which prevented its allies from selling aircraft or aircraft parts to the country, have undermined safety standards within Iran's civil and military aviation fleet and is increasing the likelihood of more major air disasters.


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