Plane crash in Iran, all 65 aboard feared dead

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TEHRAN: An Iranian commercial airplane operated by Aseman Airlines crashed Sunday in a foggy, mountainous region of southern Iran, and officials said they feared all 65 people on board were killed, Times of India reported.

Flight EP3704 left Tehran at 04:30 GMT, and crashed about an hour later. The ATR-72, a twin-engine turboprop used for short-distance regional flying, went down near its destination of the southern Iranian city of Yasuj, some 780 kilometers (485 miles) south of the Iranian capital, Tehran, where it took off.  It wasn’t immediately clear what caused the crash, although weather was severe in the area. Dense fog, high winds and heavy snow in the Zagros Mountains made it impossible for rescue crews in helicopters to reach the site Sunday, state television reported.

Those on board included 59 passengers and six crew members, the state-run IRNA news agency reported Sunday night. Aseman Airlines spokesman Mohammad Taghi Tabatabai told state TV that the plane crashed into Mount Dena, which is about 4,400 meters (14,435 feet) tall. The plane’s last signal, at 0555 GMT (12:35 a.m. EST), showed it at 16,975 feet and descending, according to airplane-tracking website FlightRadar24. The pilot was in contact with the tower 14 miles from the airport, state TV said.

Both Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani offered their condolences. President Rouhani expressed sympathy for all involved, saying, in a statement, that the incident brought “great grief and sorrow”, while Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei expressed “deep sympathy” for relatives of those on board, saying the accident “saddened the hearts”.