September 1, 2006 -- Twenty-nine people were killed and 43 injured when a Russian-built Tu-154 airliner caught fire today after landing in the northeastern Iranian city of Mashhad.
Some 75 people survived the accident, including the flight crew. Earlier reports had put the death toll as high as 80.
In remarks on state television, Iran's civil aviation chief, Nurollah Rezai Niaraki, said the plane's left wing hit the ground and caught fire after the plane skidded off the runway. State television reported that a tire burst during landing.
The flight, which was carrying some 150 passengers and crew, was arriving from the southern Iranian port city of Bandar-e Abbas.
"A team of experts from Iran's Civil Aviation Organization has been created, and it's their responsibility to [investigate] the issue," said Mehdi Sadeghi, president of Iran Air Tours, which operated the flight. "They will announce the actual cause of the incident."
A Tu-154 flying from southern Russia to St. Petersburg crashed in eastern Ukraine on August 22, killing all 170 on board. Bad weather was the most likely cause.
Iran has a poor safety record, with a string of crashes in recent decades, many involving Russian-made aircraft.
(compiled from agency reports)
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