The Ukrainian airliner that crashed shortly after takeoff from Tehran was shot down by an Iranian missile, officials from Canada, the United States and United Kingdom believe, a conclusion Iran rejects.
Western officials said the strike may have been a mistake.
The Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752 bound for the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, crashed minutes after leaving the Imam Khomeini International Airport in Tehran on Wednesday amid escalating tensions between the US and Iran. All 176 people on board were killed.
The crash happened hours after Iran launched missile attacks on US-led forces in Iraq. The strikes, Iran said, were in retaliation for the US assassination of top Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani.
Here are all of the latest updates as of Friday, January 10:
Lufthansa cancels Frankfurt-Tehran flight
German airline Lufthansa says its flight from Frankfurt to Tehran is cancelled “as a precautionary measure” because of the security situation for airspace around the Iranian airport.
“As soon as we have detailed information, we will decide if and when our Iranian flights can be operated again,” Lufthansa said in a statement.
Russia rejects claim missile hit airliner
Russian lawmakers say statements about a missile hitting the jetliner are “groundless” and they accuse the West of prematurely assigning blame to Tehran.
Vladimir Dzhabarov, a lawmaker with Russia’s upper house of parliament, said Friday that “we need to be cautious with conclusions. Iranians have invited Ukraine to take part in the investigation. Why would they do it if they knew they had shot [the plane] down?”
Leonid Slutsky, a lawmaker with Russia’s lower house of parliament, echoed that sentiment and said conclusions about the cause of the crash could be politically motivated.
“Facts and solid evidence are needed, rather than vague references to intelligence findings. So far it has all been groundless,” Slutsky said.
Pilot communicated with Mehrabad airport
Al Jazeera’s Assed Baig reporting from Tehran said that according to the aviation authority, the pilot did contact Mehrabad airport, which deals with domestic flights in Tehran, seeking permission to climb to a higher altitude of 26,000ft.
“We’re getting that extra information because before we thought the pilot had no communication but now we’re hearing that he did communicate with Mehrabad airport,” Baig said.
The aviation authority also said the plane had caught fire for a minute and a half to two minutes.
“They said that he did try to turn the airplane around and his priority was to save the aircraft and the passengers,” Baig said.
Iranian authorities have said they will try to repair the damaged black box to retrieve the data, but if they do not succeed, they will seek assistance from Canada, the US and Ukraine, Baig added.
Iran rejects claim missile downed plane
Ali Abedzadeh, head of Iran’s civil aviation department, has rejected claims that Tehran unintentionally hit the airliner with a surface-to-air missile, saying it was impossible due to close coordination between Iran’s air defence and civil aviation department.
“As I said, based on the law, there is full coordination between our air defence and our civil [aviation] system. Our civil aviation personnel and air defence personnel sit side by side, so it is absolutely impossible for such a thing [shooting down a passenger plane] to happen,” Abedzadeh told a news conference.
He called on the US and Canada to share any information they have on the crash.
“What is obvious for us, and what we can say with certainty, is that no missile hit the plane,” Abedzadeh said.
“If they are really sure, they should come and show their findings to the world,” in accordance with international standards, he added.
Iran TV airs footage of airliner’s black boxes
Iranian state television showed footage purportedly of the two black boxes recovered from the crashed Ukrainian airliner.
The footage, posted online by state TV, showed two devices inside a wooden crate which commentary said were the cockpit voice recorder and the flight data recorder.
Both black boxes are damaged but their memory can be downloaded and examined, the commentary said.
The wooden crate was opened at the Iran Civil Aviation Organisation, the commentary said.
Airliner may have been downed by missile: Ukraine
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the possibility that a missile downed the passenger airplane had not been ruled out but it has not been confirmed yet.
He said he would discuss the investigation with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo later on Friday.
France ready to contibute to probe: Minister
France is available to contribute to the probe on the Ukrainian airliner, French Foreign Minister Le Drian said.
“It is important that as much clarity as possible is made and as quickly as possible,” Le Drian said on RTL radio.
Farhad Parvaresh, Iran’s representative at the International Civil Aviation Organisation, part of the United Nations, said on Thursday that France might also be involved as it was one of the countries where the engines were made.
At UN, US and Iran invoke Article 51 to justify military actions
Iran invites Ukraine, Boeing to probe plane crash
Iran has invited both Ukraine and the Boeing company to take part in the plane crash investigation, state media reported. Iran’s spokesman Abbas Mousavi said Tehran will also welcome experts from other countries whose citizens died in the crash.
Iran had initially said it would not allow Boeing to take part in the probe, going against prevailing international norms on crash investigations. It later invited the US accident-investigating agency to take part in the probe.
Video appears to show moment Ukraine plane hit over Iran
A newly surfaced video appears to show the moment a Ukrainian airliner was hit by a missile before crashing not far from Iran’s airport in Tehran on Wednesday.
The video, first reported by the New York Times newspaper and CNN, is consistent with statements made by Canadian, US and UK officials, who said intelligence indicated that an Iranian missile brought down the airliner, a conclusion dismissed by Iran.
The officials said it may have been a mistake.
Video provided by Nariman Gharib appears to show moment Ukraine plane was hit over Tehran
Read more here.
Fears of imminent war between Iran and the United States have sparked following the US’ assassination of Iran’s top military commander Qassem Soleimani in an air raid at Baghdad’s international airport on January 3. In retaliation, Iran launched more than a dozen ballistic missiles at the Ain al-Asad airbase in Iraq’s Anbar province and a military facility in Erbil on Wednesday.