Iran Ukraine plane crash: timeline, victims, investigation, aftermath

A Ukraine International Airlines plane crashed in Iran on the morning of January 8, killing all 176 people on board and setting off a cascade of international conflicts that continued into the next week.

On Tuesday, new video verified by The New York Times was released, showing that two missiles struck the plane, setting it on fire before it crashed. 

The video further confirms what American, Canadian, and Ukrainian intelligence had announced days earlier: that the aircraft was downed by Iran’s surface-to-air missile system that had been activated at the time of the crash.

 

Iran released a statement late on January 10, claiming responsibility for downing the plane, blaming “human error.” It said that the plane flew close to a sensitive military site and was mistaken for a threat.

“In such a condition, because of human error and in a unintentional way, the flight was hit,” the Iranian statement said.

People of seven nationalities were killed in the crash, and investigations are still ongoing.

This is what we know so far.

The plane appeared to burst into flames and crashed less than 10 minutes after takeoff

A Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737-800 NG took off from Iran’s Tehran Imam Khomeini International Airport at 6.12 a.m. local time Wednesday, according to flight-tracking site FlightRadar24.

Flight PS 752 was bound for Kiev, Ukraine, but lost contact two minutes after taking off, FlightRadar24 recorded.

Nine crew members and 167 passengers were on board.

This was the flight path:

Iran Plane Crash

The flight was only in the air for a few minute before crashing.

FlightRadar24


A video, shared by state-run media outlet the Iranian Students’ News Agency, appears to show the plane on fire in the air before hitting the ground and filling the sky with flames. The video’s content and connection to this crash has not yet been confirmed.

Debris and engine parts ended up strewn across a field about six miles (10 kilometers) from the airport, Reuters reported. Reuters quoted the head of Iran’s emergency services, Pirhossein Koulivand, as saying that the flames were “so heavy” that 22 ambulances, four bus ambulances, and a helicopter could not “do any rescue.”

The video released by The Times showed the short distance between the plane and the airport, and that the crash occurred just minutes after takeoff.

US intelligence officials said they believe that Iran shot down the plane accidentally

Immediately after the crash, both Ukrainian and Iranian authorities said in the hours after the crash that it had been caused by technical problems.

Iran plane crash

The scene of the crash.
Nazanin Tabatabaee/WANA (West Asia News Agency) via REUTERS


Yet within days, US media reports cited intelligence sources that lay the blame on Iranian missiles. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also announced January 9 that the flight was downed by Iranian missiles, and demanded a “full and complete investigation” that involved members of the Canadian government.

Iranian officials initially pushed back on the reports, saying Thursday that it would be “scientifically impossible” for Iran’s missile to have caused the crash, noting that other planes were flying through Iran at similar altitudes and weren’t hit.

However, Iran released a statement late Friday claiming responsibility for the attack, blaming ‘human error’

It said that the plane flew close to a sensitive military site and was mistaken for a threat.

“In such a condition, because of human error and in a unintentional way, the flight was hit,” the Iranian statement said.

Iran plane crash

Boryspil International Airport.
REUTERS/Serhii Nuzhnenko


Ukraine International Airlines said the plane was new and recently checked.

It said in a statement that the plane was built in 2016 and had been delivered to the airline directly from Boeing. It said that the last scheduled maintenance of the plane had taken place just two days before the crash. The airline also said that its crew was experienced.

The airline has never had a fatal crash before.

The victims came from 7 counties, with most from Iran and Canada

Ukraine’s foreign minister, Vadim Prystaiko, said the victims included 82 Iranians, 63 Canadians, and 11 Ukrainians.

Prystaiko also said there were 11 Swedish citizens, four Afghan citizens, three UK citizens, and three German citizens on the plane.

Iran plane crash

Items from the scene of the crash.
Nazanin Tabatabaee/WANA (West Asia News Agency) via REUTERS


Photos from the crash site show passenger belongings, including clothes and books, as well as body bags.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau suggested Monday that some of the blame lay with the heightened tensions between the US and Iran, after President Donald Trump authorized the strike that killed Iran’s top military commander, Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani.  

“If there were no tensions, if there was no escalation recently in the region, those Canadians would be right now home with their families,” Trudeau told Canada’s Global News in an interview.

“This is something that happens when you have conflict and war,” he continued. “Innocents bear the brunt of it, and it is a reminder why all of us need to work so hard on de-escalation.”

source.

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