Failure to admit responsibility for downing of Ukrainian jet which killed 176 crash leads to second day of protests in Tehran

Anti-government protests are escalating in Iran following an admission by the government that Ukraine International Airlines flight 752 was downed by an Iranian missile.

The government had denied that the plane had been shot down for three days before admitting liability on Saturday. A growing body of evidence from Western agencies had identified an strike, likely accidental, by a Iranian surface-to-air missile as the cause of the crash.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani apologised, calling the downing a “disastrous mistake.” A leading Revolutionary Guard commander added to public anger by disclosing that he had told the authorities on the day of the crash that the plane had been struck by an Iranian missile.

Canadian crash investigators arrive

The first team of Canadian crash investigators arrived on Saturday, with a second team due to arrive in Tehran today.

Britain’s ambassador in Iran Rob McCaire was briefly detained on Saturday, reported in the Iranian media to be attending illegal anti-government protests. McCaire said he had attended a vigil for plane victims.

Missile claim initially denied by Iranians

Ukraine International Airlines flight 752 crashed shortly after take off from Tehran, killing all 176 people on board.

The missile claim was initially denied by Iran’s civil aviation chief with officials initially reporting that the crew were “trying to turn back” when the plane came down but hadn’t radioed for help. The plane crashed minutes after taking off from the Iranian capital, just hours after Iran launched ballistic missile attacks on two Iraqi bases housing US soldiers.

Iranian official news agency IRNA said experts from Boeing had been be invited to join the investigation into the crash and US National Transportation Safety . France’s BEA air accident agency is also set to play a part in the investigation.

The victims included 82 Iranians, 63 Canadians, 11 Ukrainians including all nine crew, 10 Swedes, four Afghans, three Britons and three Germans. The passenger list also included 15 children. A total of 138 passengers on the plane were due to board a connecting flight to Canada.

The aircraft exploded on impact, likely to be due to it being fully loaded with fuel for the flight to the Ukrainian capital Kiev. Both black boxes containing data and cockpit communications had been recovered, though they had been damaged and some parts of their memory was lost.

In comments published by Iran’s Mehr news agency, Civil Aviation Organisation (CAOI) chief Ali Abedzadeh initially said that the black box would not be sent to the US for analysis.

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