Plane Hits Wall At Iranian Airport, Killing 17
Saturday, 25 July 2009

At least 17 people were killed and 23 injured when a passenger aircraft veered off the runway and hit a wall while landing at Mashhad airport in northeastern Iran on Friday, media reports said.

The plane, an Ilyushin Il-62 leased by Iran's Aria Tour from Kazakhstan, left the runway and crashed into a boundary wall, state television said.

There were 153 people on board the aircraft, which had flown to Mashhad from Tehran, it said.

Television showed images of the plane with its nose section badly damaged and said the accident was due to a malfunction in the front landing wheels. It said the pilot was among the dead.

Ali Ilkhani, director of Iran's civil aviation, told state television the plane appeared to have tried to land while flying too fast. He said 13 of the dead were crew members, nine of them from Kazakhstan.

Earlier reports said the aircraft had caught fire.

Mohammad-Reza Moti, a provincial emergency aid official, told the state news agency IRNA the injured were being treated in hospitals in Mashhad, an important pilgrimage site for Shi'ite Muslims. The majority of Iranians are Shi'ites.

"Some of the injured are in bad condition," he said.

The crash occurred around 6:20 p.m. (1350 GMT).

"We felt the plane hit uneven ground right after landing ... after the emergency exit was opened, no one dared to jump because it was too high, so we got out over the wing," one of the passengers told state television.

On July 15, a Russian-built Tupolev operated by Iran's Caspian Airlines flying to Armenia crashed in northwestern Iran, killing all 168 people aboard.

U.S. sanctions bar the sale of Boeing aircraft to Iran and hinder it from buying other aircraft or spare parts from the West. Many Western aircraft rely on U.S.-made engines and parts.


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