Iranian workers search at the site where a Russian-made Iranian passenger plane crashed, 15 Jul 2009
Iranian state television said the Caspian Airlines plane went down Wednesday as
it was heading to the Armenian capital of Yerevan. The plane crashed near the
northern Iranian city of Qazvin 16 minutes after taking off from Tehran's Imam
Khomeini International Airport.
The United States has extended its condolences to the families of those killed in the crash.
The United States does not have diplomatic relations with Iran. But U.S. State Department spokesman Ian Kelly says America is working through Swiss diplomats in Iran and the U.S. embassy in Armenia to determine whether any American citizens were on board the aircraft.
Officials said the 15 crew members and 153 passengers were Armenians, Georgians and Iranians. Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs says a brother and sister of dual Iranian-Australian citizenship were listed on the plane's passenger list. Sydney says it has asked Tehran about arrangements to identify the siblings and return their remains.
Iran says 10 members of its junior judo squad were among those killed.
Video from the crash site shows personal items and debris scattered in a field. Officials at the scene say they have not found any complete bodies, only body parts.
Armenia has declared Thursday a day of mourning for the country.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has expressed his condolences to the victims' families.
Caspian Airlines is a Russian-Iranian joint venture that was founded in the early 1990s.
Iran has frequent plane crashes, often due to poor maintenance of aging planes.
In the past, Tehran has blamed its plane problems, in part, on U.S. sanctions that it says prevent Iran from getting spare parts. But Caspian airliners are Russian-made planes, so U.S. sanctions would not have the same effect on aircraft maintenance.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP.
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