A Ukraine International Airlines flight with 176 passengers and crew crashed in Iran on Wednesday shortly after takeoff, killing everyone on board, the Wall Street Journal reported. The plane, a Boeing 737, was bound for Kyiv and had reportedly just had regularly scheduled maintenance two days earlier.
The plane reportedly reached an altitude of at least 2,400 feet before plummeting. It disappeared from radar screens shortly after takeoff.
Iran state news reported that the crash was caused by an engine fire, but that has not been corroborated. Iran said that it would not turn the black box from the plane over to either the U.S. or Boeing, according to The Guardian.
Typically, the country where the crash took place would turn the black box over to the country where the plane was headed or to the country of the airplane manufacturer. But tensions between the U.S. and Iran may be interfering with standard procedure.
The U.S. has offered to assist Ukraine in any way it can and has urged Iran to cooperate fully with the investigation.
At first, the crash was speculated to have happened as part of Iran’s retaliation for a U.S. strike that killed its top military general, Qassem Soleimani, The Hill said.
Suspicion dissipated when Iran did not confirm that it attacked or sabotaged the plane.
Ukraine, for its part, has said that the plane was one of its best. “It was one of the best planes we had, with an amazing, reliable crew,” Ukraine International Airlines President Yevhen Dykhne said at a press conference, according to The Hill.
The plane’s connection to the air control tower was severed right after takeoff, and the pilot did not radio about any emergency before the crash.
Time will tell
It could take months or even years to determine the official cause of the crash. A lack of trust between Iran and the U.S. could delay the investigation even more.
In the meanwhile, Ukraine International Airlines has suspended flights to Iran indefinitely while the investigation takes place, according to the Wall Street Journal.
It certainly is a strange coincidence that this happened right in the middle of the standoff between the U.S. and Iran.