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A Passenger Jet Bound for Ukraine Crashed in Iran, Killing Everyone on Board

Soaring tensions between Iran and the United States are already complicating the investigation into what caused a Ukrainian passenger jet to crash on the outskirts of Tehran Wednesday, killing all 176 people on board. Ukrainian International Airlines Flight PS752, a Boeing 737-800, took off from Imam Khomeini airport, climbed to 2,400 meters (7,900 feet) before…

A Passenger Jet Bound for Ukraine Crashed in Iran, Killing Everyone on Board

Soaring tensions between Iran and the United States are already complicating the investigation into what caused a Ukrainian passenger jet to crash on the outskirts of Tehran Wednesday, killing all 176 people on board.

Ukrainian International Airlines Flight PS752, a Boeing 737-800, took off from Imam Khomeini airport, climbed to 2,400 meters (7,900 feet) before disappearing from radars and crashing in the southwest outskirts of Tehran. In footage circulated by the state-run Iranian media outlet ISNA, the jet appeared to be burning as it fell from the sky, before exploding on impact with the ground.

READ: What you need to know about Iran’s attacks on U.S. bases in Iraq

Iran says it has recovered both of the plane’s black boxes and launched its investigation into the cause of the crash. But already there are signs the hostile relations between Tehran and Washington will complicate the inquiry.

Under international rules, Iran is responsible for investigating the crash, while Ukraine, as the home country of the airline, and the U.S., as the home country of the manufacturer, would also typically be involved. France, a base for engine maker CFM International, might also play a role.

But Ali Abedzadeh, the head of the country’s civil aviation authority, ruled out handing over the black box to either the U.S. or Boeing, while confirming Ukraine would be involved in the investigation.

Ukrainian officials added to the confusion surrounding the crash, after the country’s embassy in Tehran issued a statement ruling out a terror or rocket attack and blaming engine failure, before removing the claim and saying any previous comments were not official. Citing an embassy official, Reuters reported that Iranian officials had asked the embassy to rescind the statement.

Asked at a briefing in Kyiv whether the plane could have been downed by a missile, Ukraine’s Prime Minister Oleksiy Honcharuk cautioned against speculation until an investigation was conducted.

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Iranian media reported that the crash was due to unspecified “technical problems,” with Abedzadeh saying terrorism had played no part in the crash. Qassem Biniaz, spokesman for Iran’s Road and Transportation authority, said a fire had broken out in one of the engines shortly after takeoff.

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