An Iranian airplane brought back into service only months ago after being grounded for seven years crashed Sunday in a foggy, mountainous region of southern Iran, and officials feared all 65 people on board were killed.
The crash of the Aseman Airlines ATR-72 was yet another fatal aviation disaster for Iran, which for years was barred from buying necessary airplane parts due to Western sanctions over its contested nuclear program.
Its nuclear accord with world powers allows it to get those parts, and the country has made deals worth tens of billions of dollars for new aircraft. However, President Donald Trump’s refusal to recertify the deal has injected uncertainty into those sales while Iranians still fly in aging aircraft.
The ATR-72, a twin-engine turboprop used for short-distance regional flying, went down near its destination of the southern city of Yasuj, some 485 miles south of the capital, Tehran, where it took off.
It wasn’t immediately clear what caused the crash, although weather was severe. Dense fog, high winds and heavy snow in the Zagros Mountains made it impossible for rescue crews in helicopters to reach the site, state television reported.
Aseman Airlines spokesman Mohammad Taghi Tabatabai told state TV that all on board Flight EP3704 were killed. It had 59 passengers and six crew members, the state-run IRNA news agency reported Sunday night, lowering the toll to 65 from an initially reported 66.
“After searching the area, we learned that, unfortunately, ... our dear passengers had lost their lives,” Tabatabai said.