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Iranian jet skids off runway, 16 perish

AN Iranian passenger plane skidded off the runway during its landing in northeast Iran and crashed, shredding the cockpit into a tangled mass of wreckage and killing 16 people, the state news agency said.

Footage from Iran's Press TV showed the plane sitting at an angle, its tail awkwardly on the ground and the mangled front end pointing upward. The rest of the craft appeared largely intact.

The IRNA news agency reported that its tires caught fire on landing and it skidded into a wall, though no wall was visible in the footage.

The Russian-made Ilyushin plane from the privately owned Aria Airlines was carrying 153 passengers and flew from the capital Tehran to the northeastern city of Mashhad, 1,000 kilometers away.

Local official Ghahrman Rashid told the state news agency that another 21 people were injured in the crash and that all survivors had been evacuated from the scene. He had originally given a slightly higher death toll and a lower figure for the injured. The manager of Aria Airlines was killed in the crash.

On July 15, an Iranian passenger plane crashed soon after takeoff, killing 168 people aboard.

It was the latest in a string of deadly crashes in recent years that have highlighted Iran's difficulties in maintaining its aging fleet of planes.

Iranian airlines, including state-run ones, are chronically strapped for cash, and maintenance has suffered, experts say.

US sanctions prevent Iran from updating its 30-year-old American aircraft and make it difficult to get European spare parts or planes as well.


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