Search continues for crashed Iranian passenger jet

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Tehran, Feb 19 (IANS) Search and rescue teams on Monday continued to search for the plane that crashed with 66 people on board a day before in central Iran.

The Aseman Airlines passenger plane was travelling from Tehran to the southwestern city of Yasuj when it came down in the Zagros mountains on Sunday. Hundreds of mountaineers with dogs and drones were trying to reach the site.

Earlier in the day, officials told the state media that the wreckage had been found, but an aviation spokesman rejected the reports of finding the remains of the plane, the BBC reported.

Emergency workers said dense fog, high winds and heavy snow hampered search and rescue operations in the extremely mountainous area which features some 100 peaks. Helicopters that were deployed for the search at dawn on Monday had to be grounded, a Red Crescent official told the local media.

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Officials from the region told Iranian news channels that rescuers had reached the site. But both channels — IRINN and Press TV — said they could not confirm the reports independently. Later, an official of the Civil Aviation Organisation rejected the reports.

“The debris of plane has not been found and search for finding it is undergoing,” Mohammad Saeed Sharafi told the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA).

He said that Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and helicopters as well as 200 climbers are searching the region.

The crashed plane was 25 years old, the organisation said. Sixty passengers, two security guards, two flight attendants, the pilot and co-pilot were on board.

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani in a statement said the incident brought “great grief and sorrow”.

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Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei also expressed “deep sympathy” for the relatives of those on board, saying the accident “saddened the hearts”.

–IANS

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