All 66 passengers and crew presumed dead in Iran plane crash

All 66 passengers and crew presumed dead in Iran plane crash

"The Revolutionary Guards' helicopters this morning found the wreckage of the plane on Dena mountain", spokesman Ramezan Sharif told state broadcaster IRIB.

State television aired footage showing the plane crash site against the side of a snow-covered mountain near Yasuj, some 780 kilometers (485 miles) south of Tehran, Iran's capital from which the Aseman Airlines flight took off on Sunday.

"Some large parts of the plane, which were labelled with the Aseman company logo, were seen", said a helicopter pilot interviewed by state television, identified only as Captain Soheili.

The twin-engine turboprop ATR 72 was more than 24 years old.

Recovered bodies, he said, were being removed by vehicle since helicopters have been unable to land at the crash site due to adverse weather conditions.

Any individuals whose actions may have led to the crash will be confronted, Mahmoud Vaezi, the head of Iran's presidency office, said Wednesday, according to Mehr.

Search helicopters finally located the crash site after a break in the weather on Tuesday at a height of around 4,000 metres (13,000 feet) in the Dena range.

Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi, Iran's minister of information and communications technology, also confirmed that the mobile phone of one of the passengers was on after the crash and was sending signals from an area near the village of Kohangan.

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The incident has reawakened concerns over aviation safety in Iran, which has been exacerbated by worldwide sanctions over the years.

Iran has complained that sanctions imposed by the United States have jeopardised the safety of its airlines and made it hard to maintain and modernise ageing fleets.

Iran's commercial passenger aircraft fleet has been involved in several accidents in recent years, including a crash near Tehran that killed 40 people in August 2014.

The country has struggled to obtain spare parts to maintain its planes in the face of worldwide sanctions imposed to curb its nuclear programme.

In a working paper presented to the United Nations' International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) in 2013, Iran said USA sanctions were blocking "the acquisition of parts, services and support essential to aviation safety".

But figures from the Flight Safety Foundation, a US-based NGO, suggest Iran is nonetheless above-average in implementing ICAO safety standards.

Those sanctions have been mostly lifted under a 2015 deal between Iran and the United States alongside several other powers.

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