Ukrainian Airlines Plane Crash: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

ukrainian plane crashes

Iran Red Crescent Society The scene of the plane crash.

The Ukrainian Airlines passenger plane that crashed in Tehran, Iran was carrying 176 people to Kiev, including 63 Canadians, according to Ukraine’s foreign minister. Flight 752 hurtled, on fire, into a farm field a few minutes after takeoff from the Tehran airport. There were no survivors on the Boeing 737. Ukraine has now called for a criminal investigation.

Iran now admits shooting down the plane, saying it was done accidentally due to human error.

FARS, which is Iran’s semi-official news agency, wrote, “The General Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces said in a statement on Saturday that the Ukrainian Boeing 737 plane was shot down as a hostile object due to human error at a time of heightened US threats of war.”

The story added: “An expert investigation by the General Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces after the Ukrainian airline company’s Boeing 737 incident has found that flight 752 of the Ukrainian airlines has been shot down as a hostile flying object that was approaching a sensitive IRGC center and was shot down due to human error few hours after Iran’s missile attack on the US and as Iran’s military was expecting attacks by the US army.”

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said in a statement: “Armed Forces’ internal investigation has concluded that regrettably missiles fired due to human error caused the horrific crash of the Ukrainian plane & death of 176 innocent people. Investigations continue to identify & prosecute this great tragedy & unforgivable mistake. The Islamic Republic of Iran deeply regrets this disastrous mistake. My thoughts and prayers go to all the mourning families. I offer my sincerest condolences.”

He added, in a statement posted to his official Twitter account: “The tragedy of the stampede at Gen. Soleimani’s funeral in Kerman and the crash of a Ukrainian passenger plane in Tehran that killed numerous Iranians, including a group of students, as well as other nationalities, deeply saddens all Iranians. May they rest in peace.”

Multiple major United States news organizations reported on January 9, 2020 that U.S. officials believe Iran shot the plane down with a missile. A dramatic video appears to show the moment that Ukrainian Flight 752 was shot down by a missile.

Both the prime ministers of Canada and Great Britain now say they think an Iranian missile brought down the plane.

“There is now a body of information that the flight was shot down by an Iranian Surface to Air Missile. This may well have been unintentional. We are working closely with Canada and our international partners and there now needs to be a full, transparent investigation,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a statement.

Canadian PM Justin Trudeau made similar comments in a news conference, saying that intelligence sources have given him evidence that the plane was struck by a missile. It “may well have been unintentional,” the prime minister said, but he didn’t commit to that for sure.

The video was verified by The New York Times, which reported that the video shows the plane “above Parand, near Tehran’s airport,” which is where its signal stopped transmitting. The New York Times’ analysis of the video showed that the plane didn’t explode in the air when the missile hit it, but instead kept flying and turned back to the airport.

It caught fire and eventually exploded and crashed, as other videos earlier showed. Here’s the video:

Other were also investigating the video.

CBS News reporter Kris Van Cleave wrote on January 9, 2020: “.@cbsnews: US officials are confident Ukrainian Flt 752 was shot down by Iran. US intelligence picked up signals of the radar being turned on & satellite detected infrared blips of 2 missile launches, probably SA-15s, followed shortly by another infrared blip of an explosion.”

Newsweek is making a similar claim, reporting that the plane was likely “struck by an anti-aircraft missile system.”

Newsweek reported that its sources were “a Pentagon official, a senior U.S. intelligence official and an Iraqi intelligence official.” They were not named.

However, Newsweek reported that the officials believe the plane was shot down “by a Russia-built Tor-M1 surface-to-air missile system, known to NATO as Gauntlet,” and that the anti-aircraft missile system was likely active because of Iran’s earlier missile attacks against Iraqi bases that house American soldiers.

The tragic news comes after great unrest on the evening of January 7, 2020 (US time – the plane crashed in the morning in Tehran), with Iran launching missiles at Iraqi bases that house American soldiers. However, there’s been no evidence of a connection, with both Ukraine and Iran claiming engine malfunction is the more likely cause. The Canadian network, CBC, reported, though, that Ukrainian officials initially agreed with the technical problem cause claim, but “later backed away and declined to offer a cause while the investigation is ongoing.”

Photos that emerged from the scene are grim and somewhat graphic (they show body bags); what they don’t show is much left of the jet, Flight PS752, as relief workers picked through the wreckage looking, to no avail, for survivors. The plane was doomed only two minutes after taking off at 6:10 a.m. from Tehran.

ukrainian plane crash

Rescue teams recover a body after a Ukrainian plane carrying 176 passengers crashed near Imam Khomeini airport in the Iranian capital Tehran early in the morning on January 8, 2020.

“The aircraft departed from Tehran International Airport at 06:10hrs. Iran local time,” Ukraine International Airline wrote in a statement. “According to preliminary data, there were 167 passengers and 9 crew members on board. UIA representatives are currently clarifying the exact number of passengers on board. The flight was operated on a Boeing 737-800 NG aircraft (registration UR-PSR). The aircraft was built in 2016 and delivered directly to the airline from the manufacturer. The last scheduled maintenance of the aircraft took place on 06 January, 2020.” The airline published the passenger list of names, which you can read here or at the end of this story.

Farnaz Fassihi, a New York Times journalist, reported on Twitter that all people on board the plane are dead. “Plane went down into ball of flames,” she wrote. A France24 corresponded tweeted that, according to the Red Crescent Society relief agency in Iran, “There is no chance of finding passengers alive after the crash.” Iranian state media also reported that all died.

An arrivals board shows the Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752 from Tehran marked as cancelled at the Boryspil airport outside Kiev on January 8, 2020.

Here’s what you need to know:

1. The Passenger List Includes Many Canadians & Iranians But Also People From Five Other Countries

iran plane crash

Red Crescent SocietyThe wreckage.

According to CNN, the Ukrainian foreign minister said people from these nationalities were on board the doomed aircraft. There are no survivors:

– 82 Iranians
– 63 Canadians
– 11 Ukrainians
– 10 Swedes
– 4 Afghans
– 3 Germans
– 3 British nationals

According to Kyiv Post, most of the plane’s passengers were ultimately destined for Toronto.

The airline released a statement, saying that the flight crew consisted of three pilots:

Captain Volodymyr Gaponenko (11600 hours on Boeing 737aircraft including 5500 hours as captain);
Instructor pilot Oleksiy Naumkin (12000 hours on Boeing 737 aircraft including 6600 hours as captain);
First officer Serhii Khomenko (7600 hours on Boeing 737 aircraft).

“Tehran airport is anything but a simple one,” the airline wrote. “Therefore, for several years UIA has been using this airport to conduct training on Boeing 737 aircraft aimed at evaluating pilots’ proficiency and ability to act in emergency cases. According to our records, the aircraft ascended as high as 2400 meters. Given the crew’s experience, error probability is minimal. We do not even consider such a chance.” There were also six flight attendants on the aircraft.

The names of the three British victims have now been released. They are Sam Zokaei, Mohammad Reza Kadkhoda-Zadeh, and Saeed Tahmasebi.

According to UK Mirror, Kadkhoda-Zadeh, 40, was a father of one who was visiting family in Iran for Christmas and lived in Brighton. The site reports that Saeed was originally from Iran and “had been on his way back to the UK with his wife, who he had only recently married.” Zokaei “worked for BP as a senior reservoir engineer and lived in London,” according to Mirror.

According to CBC, 167 of the dead were passengers and 9 were crew members. Staff at Boryspil International Airport in Kyiv told The Associated Press that “passengers on this flight are usually Iranian students returning to Ukraine after winter holidays,” CBC reported.

A women reacts at the arrival gate of the Boryspil airport outside Kiev on January 8, 2020.

“Tragic news regarding Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752,” wrote Canada’s minister of government affairs, François-Philippe Champagne. “Our hearts are with the loved ones of the victims, including many Canadians. I have been in touch with the government of Ukraine. We will continue to keep Canadians informed as the situation evolves. #PS752.”

The Iranian news agency, IRNA, reported that the dead included Iranians, among them “a young student.” IRNA is now reporting that 179 people died on the plane and that the bodies retrieved so far were not in good condition.

Kyiv Post says most of the passengers “were foreign citizens using Kyiv as a stopover for further travels.” The newspaper quoted the head of the airline, Yevhen Dykhne, as saying, “I guarantee that all of our planes are fit to fly. There weren’t any problems with the plane.”

2. Iranian Media & the Ukrainian Embassy Say Preliminary Information Pinpoints Engine Failure as the Cause

Red Crescent SocietyPhotos and video emerged of the Iran plane crash in Tehran of an Ukrainian passenger plane

Iranian media gave the cause as engine malfunction. The Ukrainian Embassy in Tehran posted the following statement, according to CNN: “According to preliminary information, the plane crashed due to an engine malfunction. The version of the terrorist attack or rocket attack is currently excluded.”

The president of Ukraine warned against speculation, writing on Facebook, “I ask everyone to keep from speculating and putting forth unconfirmed theories about the crash.”

Iran is refusing to hand over the black boxes from the flight, according to CNN. CBC reported that the “pilot couldn’t communicate with air-traffic controllers in Tehran in the last moments of the flight.”

An engine lies on the ground after a Ukrainian plane carrying 176 passengers crashed near Imam Khomeini airport in the Iranian capital Tehran.

Flight Radar 24 wrote, “We are following reports that a Ukrainian 737-800 has crashed shortly after takeoff from Tehran. #PS752 departed Tehran at 02:42UTC. Last ADS-B data received at 02:44UTC.” Kyiv Post reported that the plane was new when the airline received it in 2016.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky wrote on Facebook: “Scary news from the Middle East. This morning, after taking off from Imam Khomeini International Airport (Tehran), the passenger aircraft of Ukraine International Airlines crashed — crashed near the airport. According to preliminary reports, all passengers and crew were killed. Our embassy clarifies information about the circumstances of the tragedy and the death toll. My sincere condolences to the family and friends of all passengers and crew.”

The earliest reports indicated that the plane had technical problems. However, CNN reported that those reports came from “Iran’s semi-official news agency ISNA.”

plane crash

People stand near the wreckage after a Ukrainian plane carrying 176 passengers crashed near Imam Khomeini airport in Tehran on January 8, 2020.

Some on Twitter were using early flight data to raise questions about that claim, especially since video appeared to show the plane on fire while it crashed, not only after. The original ISNA report, which you can read here, cites only vague “reports.” The plane “crashed around Parand, about 60 kilometres south-west of Tehran,” and was carrying 176 passengers and crew, ISNA reported.

3. Photos & Videos From the Wreckage Scene Show the Plane Was Almost Completely Obliterated & Falling From the Sky on Fire

Red Crescent SocietyIran plane crash scene

Many of the earliest photos of the wreckage scene came from the Iranian relief agency, The Red Crescent Society. Ali Hashem, BBC’s Iran affairs correspondent, tweeted Red Crescent pictures of the crash scene. “Pictures of what’s left of the Ukrainian plane’s wreckage, nothing much, according to Iranian media it’s very unlikely that anyone survived,” he wrote. He also shared video footage he claimed showed “the Ukrainian airplane while on fire falling near #Tehran.” The video shared by Hashem is unverified. However, the video appears to have originated with ISNA, the Iranian Student News Agency, and you can see it here. It shows a small ball of fire descending rapidly before crashing with an explosion.

Boeing, of course, is already dealing with the aftermath of two 737 Max crashes and the grounding of that fleet as a result. “We are aware of the media reports out of Iran and we are gathering more information,” The Boeing Company wrote in a statement.

More scenes of the plane crash.

Some photos showed the ground littered with debris that included passengers’ belongings.

GettyThe plane crash scene.

Other photos showed mangled pieces of the plane.

The plane crash aftermath.

IRNA, the official news agency of Iran, wrote, “A passenger plane has crashed near the Imam Khomeini International Airport southern Tehran. The plane is reported to be a Boeing 737 which belongs to Ukraine airlines. Ukraine International Airlines was on the way from Tehran to Kiev that crashed after taking off. Speaking to IRNA, Emergency Department spokesman Mojtaba Khaledi said the plane was carrying 170 passengers and crew members.”

It later emerged that 176 people were on board. Earlier numbers ranged from 170 to 180.

4. The Fire Was ‘So Heavy’ That It Was Preventing Rescue, Reports Say

Red Crescent SocietyThe wreckage

Reuters reported that Pirhossein Koulivand, head of Iran’s emergency services, said on television that “the plane is on fire but we have sent crews … and we may be able to save some passengers.” However, he later said, according to the news agency: “The fire is so heavy that we cannot (do) any rescue… we have 22 ambulances, four bus ambulances and a helicopter at the site.”

The head of the Red Crescent Population Relief Organization wrote on Twitter that debris was “scattered at various points on a wide surface at the crash site. People are being urged to refrain from rallying around the scene of the accident and to allow the relief and law enforcement vehicles to travel.” Here are more pictures from that organization.

Civil aviation spokesman Reza Jafarzadeh said, according to Fox News: “After taking off from Imam Khomeini international airport it crashed between Parand and Shahriar. An investigation team from the national aviation department was dispatched to the location after the news was announced.”

plane crash

GettyPeople stand near the wreckage after a Ukrainian plane carrying 176 passengers crashed near Imam Khomeini airport in Tehran on January 8, 2020.

The flight history shows the plane bound for Kiev. The radar data shows the plane was delayed for an hour. It didn’t get over 7,854 feet in the air when it crashed.

CNN’s Shimon Prokupecz wrote on Twitter, “The Boeing 737 belonging to the Ukrainian Airlines had 180 passengers and crew aboard and crashed shortly after take-off due technical difficulties, ISNA says. Preliminary reports suggest that the plane was en route to Kiev.” BBC reported that the plane crash reports were coming from “local media.”

You can see the Flight Aware page for the plane here. The Flight Aware page says the plane is Ukraine International 752 AUI752 / PS752. It took off from “Imam Khomeini Int’l – IKA.” It was destined for Boryspil, Ukraine. BBC reported that the plane belongs to Ukraine International Airlines.

5. No Evidence Has Emerged Connecting the Plane Crash to the Missile Strikes

The wreckage scene.

The report of the plane crash comes after Iran sent missiles to Iraqi bases housing American soldiers. There’s no evidence, at least preliminarily, that’s emerged showing the missile attacks have anything to do with the plane crash, however. The BBC reported that it was “unclear whether the incident is linked to the Iran-US confrontation.”

The FAA in the U.S. had previously issued “flight restrictions that prohibit U.S. civil aviation operators from operating in the airspace over Iraq, Iran, and the waters of the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman.”

The plane crash scene.

Here are some of the facts on the missile attacks nonetheless: A US official told CNN that “there were no initial reports of any US casualties” from the January 7, 2020 Iranian missile attacks.

“No U.S. casualties in Iraq after missile strike from Iran, but assessment still ongoing: officials,” Lucas Tomlinson, Pentagon reporter for Fox News, also reported.

“It is clear that these missiles were launched from Iran and targeted at least two Iraqi military bases hosting U.S. military and coalition personnel,” the Pentagon said in a statement given to NBC.

CNN reported that, although damage and casualties are still being assessed, there appears to be no Iraqi casualties, either. The network’s Shimon Prokupecz reported: “Iraqi security officials are now telling CNN there are no casualties among Iraqi security forces following the attacks on the al-Asad airbase in Anbar province and the attacks in Erbil.”

Prokupecz added: “The initial assessment is that the Iranian missiles struck areas of the al-Asad base not populated by Americans, according to a US military official and a senior administration official.”

General Jonathan Vance, the top Canadian general, wrote on Twitter that there were no Canadian casualties, either. “CAF families: I can assure you that all deployed CAF personnel are safe & accounted for following missile attacks in Iraq. We remain vigilant,” he wrote.

al asad air base

GettyA pilot sits in a US F16 jet fighter at the al-Asad Air Base, west the capital Baghdad in November 2016.

President Donald Trump said he will give a statement on January 8, 2020. Then he tweeted, “All is well! Missiles launched from Iran at two military bases located in Iraq. Assessment of casualties & damages taking place now. So far, so good! We have the most powerful and well equipped military anywhere in the world, by far! I will be making a statement tomorrow morning.” That tweet came before news of the plane crash broke. The president’s statement is planned for 11 a.m. ET.

Alyssa Farrah, the press secretary for the U.S. Department of Defense, provided this information on Twitter about the missile attacks:

“At approx 1730EST on 1/7, Iran launched at least a dozen ballistic missiles against US military &coalition forces in Iraq. It’s clear these missiles were launched from Iran & targeted at least 2 Iraqi military bases hosting US military &coalition personnel at Al-Assad & Irbil. We are working on initial battle damage assessments. In recent days and in response to Iranian threats and actions, the @DeptofDefense has taken all appropriate measures to safeguard our personnel and partners. These bases have been on high alert due to indications that the Iranian regime planned to attack our forces & interests in the region. As we evaluate the situation & our response, we will take all necessary measures to protect & defend U.S. personnel, partners, & allies in the region.”

Here is the full list of names of people on the Ukrainian plane, according to the airline:

Surname, Name, Year of Birth

Abaspourqadi Mohamm 1986
Abbasnezhad Mojtaba 1993
Abtahiforoushani Seyedmehran 1982
Aghabali Iman 1991
Agha Miri Maryam 1973
Ahmadi Motahereh 2011
Ahmadi Muh Sen 2014
Ahmadi Rahmtin 2010
Ahmadi Sekinhe 1989
Ahmady Mitra 1973
Amirliravi Mahsa 1989
Arasteh Fareed 1987
Arbabbahrami Arshia 2000
Arsalani Evin 1990
Asadilari Mohammadhossein 1996
Asadilari Zeynab 1998
Ashrafi Habibabadi Amir 1991
Attar Mahmood 1950
Azadian Roja 1977
Azhdari Ghanimat 1983
Badiei Ardestani Mehraban 2001
Bashiri Samira 1990
Beiruti Mohammad Amin 1990
Borghei Negar 1989
Choupannejad Shekoufeh 1963
Dadashnejad Delaram 1993
Daneshmand Mojgan 1976
Dhirani Asgar 1945
Djavadi Asll Hamidreza 1967
Djavadi Asll Kian 2002
Ebnoddin Hamidi Ardalan 1971
Ebnoddin Hamidi Kamyar 2004
Ebrahim Niloufar 1985
Ebrahimi Khoei Behnaz 1974
Eghbali Bazoft Shahrokh 1960
Eghbali Bazoft Shahzad 2011
Eghbalian Parisa 1977
Elyasi Mohammad Mahdi 1991
Emami Sayedmahdi 1959
Emami Sophie 2014
Eshaghian Dorcheh Mehdi 1995
Esmaeilion Reera 2010
Esnaashary Esfahani Mansour 1990
Faghihi Sharieh 1961
Falsafi Faezeh 1973
Falsafi Faraz 1988
Farzaneh Aida 1986
Feghahati Shakiba 1980
Foroutan Marzieh 1982
Ghaderpanah Iman 1985
Ghaderpanah Parinaz 1986
Ghafouri Azar Siavash 1984
Ghandchi Daniel 2011
Ghandchi Dorsa 2003
Ghasemi Ariani Milad 1987
Ghasemi Dastjerdi Fatemeh 1994
Ghasemi Amirhossein 1987
Ghasemi Kiana 2000
Ghavi Mandieh 1999
Ghavi Masoumeh 1989
Gholami Farideh 1981
Ghorbani Bahabadi A 1998
Golbabapour Suzan 1970
Gorji Pouneh 1994
Haghjoo Saharnaz 1982
Hajesfandiari Bahareh 1978
Hajiaghavand Sadaf 1992
Hajighassemi Mandieh 1981
Hamzeei Sara 1986
Hasani/sadi Zahra 1994
Hashemi Shanrzad 1974
Hassannezhad Parsa 2003
Hatefi Mostaghim Sahan 1987
Hayatdavoudi Hadis 1992
Jadidi Elsa 2011
Jadidi Pedran 1991
Jamshidi Shadi 1988
Jebelli Mohammaddam 1990
Kadkhoda Zaden Mohammaddam 1979
Kadkhodazaden Kasha 1990
Karamimoghadam Bahareh 1986
Katebi Rahimen 1999
Kaveh Azaden 1979
Kazerani Fatemeh 1987
Khadem Forough 1981
Kobiuk Olga 1958
Lindberg Emil 2012
Lindberg Erik 2010
Lindberg Raheleh 1982
Lindberg Mikael 1979
Madani Firouzeh 1965
Maghsoudlouestarabadi Siavash 1976
Maghsoudlouesterabadi Paria 2004
Mahmoodi Fatemeh 1989
Malakhova Olena 1981
Malek Maryam 1979
Maleki Dizaje Fereshteh 1972
Mamani Sara 1983
Mianji Mohammadjavad 1992
Moeini Mohammad 1984
Moghaddam Rosstin 2010
Mohammadi Mehdi 1999
Molani Hiva 1981
Molani Kurdia 2018
Moradi Amir 1998
Morattab Arvin 1984
Moshrefrazavimoghaddam Soheila 1964
Mousavi Daria 2005
Mousavi Dorina 2010
Mousavibafrooei Pedram 1972
Nabiyi Elnaz 1989
Naderi Farzahen 1981
Naghibi Zahra 1975
Naghib Lahouti Mehr 1987
Nahavandi Milad 1985
Niazi Arnica 2011
Niazi Arsan 2008
Niknam Farhad 1975
Norouzi Alireza 2008
Nourian Ghazal 1993
Oladi Alma 1992
Omidbakhsh Roja 1996
Ovaysi Amir Hossein 1978
Ovaysi Asal 2013
Pasavand Fatemeh 2002
Pey Alireza 1972
Pourghaderi Ayeshe 1983
Pourjam Mansour 1966
Pourshabanoshibi Naser 1966
Pourzarabi Arash 1993
Raana Shahab 1983
Rahimi Jiwan 2016
Rahimi Razgar 1981
Rahmanifar Nasim 1994
Razzaghi Khamsi Ni 1974
Rezai Mahdi 2000
Rezae Hossain 1999
Saadat Saba 1998
Saadat Sara 1996
Saadat Zeinolabedin 1990
Saati Kasra 1972
Sadeghi Alvand 1990
Sadeghi Anisa 2009
Sadeghi Mirmohammad 1976
Sadeghi Sahand 1980
Sadighi Neda 1969
Sadr Niloufar 1958
Sadr Seyednoojan 2008
Saeedinia Amirhosse 1994
Safarpoorkoloor Pe 1999
Saket Mohammadhosse 1986
Salahi Moh 1988
Saleheh Mohammad 1987
Saraeian Sajedeh 1993
Setareh Kokab Hamid 1988
Shadkhoo Sheyda 1978
Shaterpour Khiaban 1988
Soltani Paniz 1991
Tahmasebi Khademasa 1984
Tajik Mahdi 1999
Tajik Shahram 1998
Tarbhai Afifa 1964
Tarbha Alina 1988
Toghian Darya 1997
Zarei Arad 2002
Zibaie Maya 2004
Zokaei Sam 1977

The crew members were named as:

Oleksiy Naumkin (pilot);
Volodymyr Gaponenko (pilot);
Serhiy Khomenko (pilot);
Kateryna Statnik (flight attendant);
Ihor Matkov (flight attendant);
Maria Mykytiuk (flight attendant);
Denys Lykhno (flight attendant);
Valeria Ovcharuk (flight attendant);
Yulia Sologub (flight attendant).

This post is being updated as more information is learned about the plane crash.

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