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Ukrainian airplane crashes near Iran's capital, killing all 176 passengers

Posted at 9:00 PM, Jan 07, 2020

A Ukrainian passenger jet carrying 176 people crashed just minutes after taking off from the Iranian capital's main airport, turning farmland on the outskirts of Tehran into fields of flaming debris and killing all on board.

The crash of Ukraine International Airlines came hours after Iran launched a ballistic missile attack on Iraqi bases housing U.S. soldiers.

Iranian officials said they suspected a mechanical issue brought down the Boeing 737-800 aircraft. The Ukrainian Embassy initially said they did not believe the crash was terror related, but later pulled that statement.

"Information on the causes of the plane crash is being clarified by the commission," the embassy said, according to CNN.

Among those killed in the crash were 82 Iranians, 63 Canadians and 11 Ukrainians were killed in the crash, according to CNN. Ukraine's foreign minister says Swedish, Afghan, British and German nationals were also among those killed.

Canadian Foreign Minister François-Philippe Champagne says he's been in touch with the government of Ukraine since the crash. He called it tragic news and said Wednesday that Canada's "hearts are with the loved ones of the victims, including many Canadians."

CNN reports that Iran will not hand over the black boxes containing flight information over to the United States or to Boeing. Iran says it has no obligation to provide the information to the U.S. under international aviation law.

Commercial airlines are rerouting flights crossing the Middle East to avoid possible danger amid escalating tensions between the United States and Iran.

Australian carrier Qantas says it's altering its London to Perth, Australia, routes to avoid Iranian and Iraqi airspace until further notice. Malaysia Airlines says that “due to recent events,” its planes would avoid Iranian airspace. Singapore Airlines also says its flights to Europe would avoid Iran.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has barred American pilots and carriers from flying in areas of Iraqi, Iranian and some Persian Gulf airspace.

Analysts say that changed flight plans are expected to inconvenience as many as 15,000 passengers per day and lengthen flight times by an average of 30 to 90 minutes.