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Iranian plane crash in UAE kills 43
(China Daily)
Updated: 2004-02-11 00:38

An Iranian plane carrying migrant workers crashed as it came in to land at Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday, killing 43 of the 46 people on board.

The Kish Airline plane, a Dutch-made twin-engined Fokker-50, smashed into the desert, two miles from the airport and between two residential areas, at 11 a.m.

Officials blamed a technical fault and said they had retrieved the plane's black box. Witnesses saw a wobbling plane making strange engine noises which then nosedived.

"Forty three people died and three survived," Civil Aviation official Ahmad bu Kallah told Reuters.

He said a Filipino, an Iranian and the one other survivor were in critical condition. The dead included at least 11 Iranian passengers and all six Iranian crew.

Sharjah airport officials said passengers were from India, Iran, UAE, Algeria, Egypt, Nepal, Syria, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Philippines, Sudan and Cameroon.

Another Civil Aviation official, Ghanem al-Hajiri, said the plane had made contact with Sharjah airport before it crashed.

It was the sixth crash involving Iranian planes since 2000.

One witness said it had gone into a nose-dive. "From the impact of the crash it overturned, split into two and then burst into flames," the witness added.

Builders at a nearby site said they saw the plane wobbling as it descended and heard strange noises coming from the engine.


Rescue teams wearing face masks loaded charred bodies into a large refrigerated truck while others searched for more bodies, witnesses said. Shocked relatives, some crying, watched television images of the wreckage at Sharjah airport.

Iran's Aviation Authority said in a statement on Iran's official news agency that the plane had asked for an emergency landing as it was coming into Sharjah, then deviated to the left and crashed. It said Iran would send a team to help investigate.

Kish Airline runs domestic and some short-haul international routes to and from Iran's Kish Island in the Gulf.

Kish, a free trade zone which Iran is promoting as a tourist destination, is popular with foreign workers in the UAE who need to leave the country to renew residence and work permits.

Aviation experts have blamed a spate of Iranian crashes in recent years on aging and outdated planes.

A Russian built Ilyushin-76M/MD military transport aircraft crashed in Iran last February killing all 276 personnel aboard.

In 1998, a Ukrainian Ilyushin 76 cargo plane crashed into Gulf waters off the northern tip of the UAE shortly after take-off killing all eight crew members abroad.

A Tajik Tupolev-154 airliner fell in 1997 in the UAE desert on its way to Sharjah emirate, killing 85 people.

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