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Ukrainian Airplane Crashes near Iran’s Capital, Killing 176

Debris is seen from an Ukrainian plane which crashed as authorities work at the scene in Shahedshahr, southwest of the capital Tehran, Iran, Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)
Ukrainian Airplane Crashes near Iran's Capital, Killing 176
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Airline companies are changing flight paths throughout the Middle East following the deadly crash of a Ukrainian passenger plane in Iran Wednesday.

The crash killed all 176 people on the plane. It happened just hours after Iran attacked American bases in Iraq with ballistic missiles. No one was hurt in the strikes. The strikes were in answer to the U.S. killing last week of Iranian military official Qassem Soleimani.

The plane crashed minutes after leaving Tehran airport. Iranian officials said they believed a mechanical problem caused the crash. They have disputed suggestions that the plane was hit by a missile.

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy cut short a visit to Oman to return to Kyiv following the crash. He said a team of Ukrainian experts would fly to Tehran to help investigate the crash. "Our priority is to find the truth and everyone responsible for the tragedy," Zelenskiy wrote in a Facebook statement.

The UIA flight was bound for Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital, carrying 167 passengers and a crew of nine. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko said the dead included 82 Iranians, 63 Canadians, 11 Ukrainians, 10 Swedes, four Afghans, three Germans and three Britons. Airline officials said most of the passengers were going to the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, to change planes for other cities.

Later Wednesday, several European airline companies announced they were changing their routes to avoid Iranian airspace. The changes are expected to decrease air travel between Iran and Western Europe.

Air France and Dutch airline KLM both said Wednesday that they had suspended all flights over Iranian and Iraqi airspace. German airline Lufthansa also canceled flights to Iraq.

In North America, Air Canada changed its flight paths from Toronto to Dubai through Egypt and Saudi Arabia to avoid traveling over Iraq.

In Canada, Foreign Minister François-Philippe Champagne said Wednesday Canada’s “hearts are with the loved ones of the victims, including many Canadians.”

The Ukrainian president asked Ukraine International Airlines to begin a full inspection of all non-military airplanes in the country.

Iran’s Road and Transportation Ministry said it appears that one of the plane’s engines caught fire.

The plane was fully loaded with fuel for its 2,300-kilometer trip. It crashed near the town of Shahedshahr, just outside Tehran.

I’m Susan Shand.

The Associated Press reported this story. Susan Shand adapted it for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

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Words in This Story

ballistic - adj. a type of missile that can travel very far

priority - n. something that is very important