18 dead after Iranian plane makes emergency landing

Sunday, January 9, 2011

TEHRAN - At least 18 people were killed in a deadly emergency landing Sunday near Orumieh in the Azerbaijan province of northwestern Iran, the head of the country’s emergency centre told the ISNA news agency.

Gholam-Reza Massoumi said that, so far, there has been confirmation that 50 people have survived the incident. Forty of those had to be hospitalised.

Initial reports had stated that more than 100 people might have died in a plane crash.

Transportation deputy minister Ahmad Majodo told Fars news agency that there was no crash, but that the plane, coming from the capital Tehran, made an emergency landing - for as yet unclear reasons - in a nearby village 10 minutes before reaching Orumieh airport.

According to local officials in the Azerbaijan province, the first villagers to notice the crash rushed to the site and freed some of the passengers, providing them with initial medical care.

Iran’s transportation minister said the death toll was low as the plane did not catch fire.

ISNA news agency quoted Hamid Behbahani as saying: “thank God, the plane did not catch fire and therefore the death toll is expected to be lower than initially feared.”

Behbahani, who rushed to the crash site Sunday night, said the plane’s black box would need to be studied before more details could be made available. He also noted there would be interviews with survivors of the landing.

The Iranian Health Ministry had earlier reported that the number of survivors may even reach 60.

There are however contradictory reports on the number of the people on board.

While the Health Ministry reported 100 people, including 92 passengers eight crew members were on board, the Transportation Ministry reported 105. The official IRNA news agency has said 94 were on board.

There are no reports yet available on any foreign passengers on board.

Aid teams from the Red Crescent have rushed to the site, but heavy snow has hampered the work of aid teams, the official said.

All hospitals in the provincial capital of Orumieh are prepared to take on those injured in the crash, officials have said.

According to ISNA, the plane was a Boeing 727 belonging to the national state-airline Iran Air. It has been speculated that the emergency landed was necessitated by bad weather and heavy fog.

Filed under: Accidents and Disasters

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