State media: Plane with 40 aboard crashes in Iran

Associated Press

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — A small Iranian passenger plane crashed Sunday while taking off from an airport near the capital, Tehran, state media reported. The country's state-run news agency said 40 people were feared killed in the crash.

The aircraft, an Iran-141 jet typically used for short domestic flights, crashed near Mehrabad airport, west of Tehran, Iran's state-run IRNA news agency reported. The plane went down in a residential area, the agency reported.

"Initial reports indicate that the 40 people aboard the plane have been killed, including seven children," IRNA reported. It did not identify a source for its claim.

Iranian state television reported that it was a Taban Air flight. The Iran-141 is a small passenger plane produced in Iran with Ukrainian technology.

Iran has suffered a series of airplane crashes, blamed on its aging aircraft and poor maintenance. Many of the Boeing aircraft in state-run Iran Air's fleet were bought before the country's 1979 Islamic Revolution, which disrupted ties with the U.S. and Europe.

Iranian airlines, including those run by the state, are chronically strapped for cash, and maintenance has suffered, experts say. U.S. sanctions prevent Iran from updating its American aircraft and make it difficult to get European spare parts or planes as well. The country has come to rely on Russian aircraft, many of them Soviet-era planes that are harder to get parts for since the Soviet Union's fall.

The last major airliner crash in Iran happened in January 2011, when an Iran Air Boeing 727 broke to pieces on impact while trying an emergency landing in a snowstorm in northwestern Iran, killing at least 77 people.

In July 2009, a Russian-made jetliner crashed in northwest Iran shortly after taking off from the capital, killing all 168 on board.

In February 2003 a Russian-made Ilyushin 76 carrying members of the Revolutionary Guard crashed in the mountains of southeastern Iran, killing 302 people aboard.

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