The Ukrainian passenger plane that crashed In Iran on Wednesday was on fire and trying to turn back to Tehran airport when it went down, but made no calls for help, investigators have said.
Iran’s civil aviation authority made the comments in a preliminary report a day after the disaster that killed all 176 people on board, including three Brits.
The crash caused a massive explosion when the plane hit the ground, likely because the aircraft had been fully loaded with fuel for the flight to Kyiv, Ukraine, the report said.
It also confirmed that both of the black boxes that contain data and cockpit communications from the plane had been recovered, though they had been damaged and some parts of their memory was lost, Reuters reports.
The report by Iran’s civil aviation organisation cited witnesses on the ground and in a passing aircraft flying at high altitude as saying the jet was on fire while still aloft.
The three-year-old jet, which had its last scheduled maintenance on Monday, encountered a technical problem shortly after take-off and started to head toward a nearby airport before it crashed, the report said.
The technical problem was not specified in the report, which also said that there was no radio communication from the pilot and that the aircraft disappeared from radar at 8,000 feet (2,440 m).
Among the victims were 82 Iranians, 63 Canadians, 11 Ukrainians, 10 Swedes, three Germans and three Britons, PA Media reports.
BP has confirmed one of those killed in the Tehran plane crash as 42-year-old reservoir engineer Sam Zokaei, who has worked at the oil company for more than 14 years.
The two other British victims have been named as engineer and researcher at Imperial College London, Saeed Tahmasebi Khademasadi, and Mohammed Reza Kadkhoda Zadeh from West Sussex.
Meanwhile Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said crash investigators from his country had arrived in Iran to assist in the probe.
He also said he planned to call President Hassan Rouhani about the crash and the investigation.
“Undoubtedly, the priority for Ukraine is to identify the causes of the plane crash,” Zelenskiy said. “We will surely find out the truth.”