IRANIAN DISASTER – 140 killed as plane crashes into flats

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140 people were killed yesterday when an Iranian military aircraft crashed into a block of flats in a residential area in the south of the capital Tehran.

All on board were killed plus a large number of residents in the block of flats, which was home to many air force personnel.

84 passengers and ten crew were on board.

Among the dead were 47 state television journalists who were travelling on the plane to the south western city of Bandar Abbas to cover military exercises there.

The C-130 military transport plane encountered ‘technical difficulties’ shortly after take-off from Mehrabad airport.

The plane had apparently been trying to make an emergency landing at the airport when it hit the apartment block in the Shahrak-e Tohid neighbourhood amid thick smog.

The plane crashed at 2.10pm local time over the Tohid residential complex which belongs to the Iranian Air Force.

The block of flats is next to a household gas supply station and there was a huge explosion and fire when the plane ploughed into ground next to the building.

Firefighters were battling the intense blaze which enveloped the residential complex, normally home to 500 people.

Late afternoon reports said that at least 45 people had been killed in the building and 30 were injured.

Witnesses said the whole building seemed to be ablaze.

Emergency services rushed to the scene in the Yaftabad district and the area was sealed off.

‘Everyone on the plane is dead. They are just pulling out bodies,’ one witness close to the scene said.

All of Tehran’s hospitals were immediately put on alert to receive casualties.

‘The plane disintegrated and all the bodies are burned.

‘A young girl jumped from the window because of the flames.

‘Most of the victims on the ground are women and children who were at home,’ said Lieutenant Nasser Sedigh-Nia, who witnessed the crash.

‘The fuel tanks were full, which is why the explosion was so big,’ the air force officer said. ‘Our C-130s are in a bad state because of the US sanctions: we can’t get spare parts.’