Evidence from western agencies suggests Iranian surface to air missile may have been responsible for downing Ukraine International Airlines flight which crashed near Tehran

Evidence from western agencies suggests an Iranian surface-to-air missile may have been responsible for downing an Ukraine International Airlines flight which crashed near Tehran.

Canada and the UK have called for a thorough investigation into the crash of Ukraine International Airlines flight 752 which happened shortly after take off and killed all 176 people on board. Western intelligence agencies have reported that they picked up satellite signals of missile launches before traces of an impact explosion.

A video which has been verified by the New York Times and geo-located by investigative website Bellingcat appears to show a missile streaking over Tehran before exploding on contact with the plane which continues to fly. Around 10 seconds later, it records a loud explosion on the ground.

Missile claim denied by Iranians

The missile claim has been strongly denied by Iran’s civil aviation chief. 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.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “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.”

US investigators receive notification of crash

Iranian official news agency IRNA said experts from Boeing would be invited to join the investigation into the crash and US National Transportation Safety Board said it had designated a representative to the crash inquiry after it had received “formal notification” of the crash from Iran. France’s BEA air accident agency has also been notified and has designated an accredited representative into the safety investigation.

Ukraine calls on Western agencies to share information

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy has called on “international partners” to share any information they have on the crash and has said he would discuss the investigation with US secretary of state Mike Pompeo later on Friday.

Zelenskiy has said the theory of the missile strike has not been ruled out but notification but not been confirmed yet.

Iranian officials claim plane was “trying to turn back”

Iranian civil aviation officials said in a preliminary report yesterday that the crew of flight “trying to turn back” when the plane came down.

The report revealed that the aircraft was engulfed in flames shortly after taking off from Tehran. The crew of flight PS752 to Kiev did not radio for help, but investigators say they were trying to turn back when it came down.

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.

Aircraft exploded on impact

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.

Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of Ukraine’s Security Council, told Ukrainian media that officials had several theories regarding the crash, including a missile strike – a theory which has been disputed by the Iranian military. Ukrainian investigators have now arrived in Iran and are awaiting permission to examine the crash site.

Mr Danilov also said several possible causes were being considered, including a drone or other flying object crashing into the plane, terrorist attack or engine malfunction causing an explosion.

Ukraine to step up co-operation with Iran

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy has ordered a criminal investigation into the crash, although Iranian officials have blamed the crash on an engine fire. In a televised statement, he said “a thorough and independent investigation will be conducted in accordance with international law” and would speak directly to Ukrainian leaders to step up co-operation into the crash investigation.

Black box “will not be given to Americans”

In comments published by Iran’s Mehr news agency, Civil Aviation Organisation (CAOI) chief Ali Abedzadeh said: “We will not give the black box to the manufacturer and the Americans.”

He added that the crash would be investigated by Iran’s aviation organisation “but the Ukrainians can also be present.” Mr Abedzadeh said it was not yet clear which country would analyse the black boxes.

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