Search resumes for Iranian plane

Frederick Owens
February 22, 2018

Iranian search-and-rescue teams on Tuesday offered the first images of the site of an airplane crash in southern Iran that killed 65 people, with officials hoping to reach the aircraft's "black boxes" to learn exactly what downed the flight.

On Tuesday, helicopters of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) managed to find the exact location of the wreckage of the ATR plane that crashed on Sunday.

No survivors have been found from Aseman Airlines flight EP3704, which disappeared from radar on Sunday morning, around 45 minutes after taking off from Tehran on a domestic flight.

After two days of heavy snow and fog, the weather finally cleared on Tuesday morning, giving helicopter teams better visibility.

At present, seven helicopters as well as almost 100 rescue workers and mountain climbers, including Himalayan climbers, are continuing the search operation in the area.

A Red Crescent official said there was "no reliable news" that the crashed aircraft bound to Yasuj city from Tehran had been located.

Search and rescue teams were dispatched to the site, IRNA news agency reported.

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The 24-year-old turboprop plane was staffed with six crew members.

Aseman Airlines was blacklisted by the European Commission in December 2016 - one of only three worldwide to be barred over safety concerns.

Aseman was forced to ground many of its planes at the height of the sanctions due to difficulties in obtaining spares.

Air accidents have been on the rise in Iran as decades of sanctions thwarted updates to its aging fleet.

The search will continue on foot as the mountainous terrain made a helicopter landing impossible, a spokesperson for Iran's emergency service agency said.

But figures from the Flight Safety Foundation, a US-based NGO, suggest Iran is nonetheless above-average in implementing ICAO safety standards.

However, following Iran's 2015 nuclear deal with the United States and other world powers, a number of sanctions have been lifted, allowing Tehran to purchase new planes from Airbus and Boeing. After signing the 2015 nuclear deal, Iranian officials signed up to buy new planes from Airbus and Boeing.

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