TEHRAN (AFP) — An Iranian airliner overshot the runway and slammed into a perimeter wall killing 17 people in the second city of Mashhad on Friday in the country’s second air disaster in 10 days, state media said.
“There was an accident and a fire involving a passenger plane from Tehran to Mashhad that has left 17 people dead and 19 injured,” the official IRNA news agency reported, quoting the deputy governor of Khorasan province, Ghahreman Rashid.
Rashid identified the plane as a Russian-designed Ilyushin and said it carried 153 passengers.
“All the dead and injured people and passengers have been evacuated and the fire has been completely controlled,” Rashid said, according to IRNA.
A senior transport official said the incoming aircraft had overshot the runway.
“Instead of landing at the beginning of the tarmac, the plane landed in the middle of the runway,” the ISNA news agency quoted deputy transport minister Ahmad Majidi as saying.
“Because the tarmac’s length is short, it has gone off the tarmac and crashed into the opposite wall.
“The Ilyushin 62 belonged to the Aria Airline,” Majidi added referring to an independent Iranian carrier.
The Mehr news agency said the plane crashed through the airport’s perimeter wall before hitting power lines and coming to a halt in adjacent farmland.
State television said that the accident occurred as the plane was landing at the international airport in Mashhad, a popular Shiite Muslim pilgrimage center in northeastern Iran.
“The plane… had a technical glitch,” state television said quoting the director of the public relations department at Mashhad’s Hashemi Najad airport, who was identified only by his surname Pirhandeh.
The television’s website quoted acting state aviation organization director, Mohammad Ali Ilkhani, as saying that the plane had “swerved off the tarmac at Mashhad airport as it landed, before crashing nose-first into one of the airport?s walls.”
It was the second reported major incident in the past decade involving the Iranian carrier formerly known as Aria Air Tour.
On November 13, 2000, a Russian-designed Yakovlev aircraft linking the southern Iranian cities of Ahvaz and Bandar Abbas was briefly hijacked before elite Revolutionary Guards intervened freeing the passengers at the cost of one crew member and two Guards wounded, according to a report by US carrier American Airlines on criminal acts against civil aviation.
Friday’s crash was the second deadly accident involving an Iranian airliner since July 15 when a Caspian Airlines plane crashed near the city of Qazvin, northwest of Tehran, killing all 168 on board.
That accident occurred shortly after takeoff from Tehran’s international Imam Khomeini airport on its way to the Armenian capital, Yerevan.
The plane caught fire in mid-air and plunged into farmland outside a village in northwest Iran just 16 minutes after take-off, killing all 153 passengers and 15 crew members on board.
Iran, which has been under years of international sanctions hampering its ability to buy modern Boeing or Airbus planes, has suffered a number of aviation disasters over the past decade.
Its civil and military fleet is made up of ancient aircraft in very poor condition due to their age and lack of maintenance.
In the most deadly previous crash, 117 people on board another Russian-designed aircraft, a Tupolev, were killed when it crashed into snow-covered mountains in western Iran in 2002.
The Iranian crash earlier this month marked one of the deadliest series of crashes in many year. It came just two weeks after a Yemenia Airbus A310 crashed in the Indian Ocean off the Comoros with 153 passengers and crew on board, with only one survivor.
That incident occurred just 29 days after the crash of an Air France A330, killing 228.