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Iranian plane crashes into mountains; all 65 people feared dead

The Aseman Airlines flight crashed near the town of Semirom, roughly 370 miles south of Tehran.

All passengers and crew onboard an Iranian commercial flight are feared to have been killed after the plane crashed amid severe weather conditions in a mountainous region in the south of the country, media reports said.

According to a report in The Guardian, Aseman Airlines flight 3705, en route from Tehran to the southern city of Yasuj, went off radar 50 minutes into its journey, not far from its destination.

Officials said the twin-engine turboprop ATR-72 plane, which was 20 years old, left the Iranian capital at 8.05am local time (0435 GMT) on Sunday for a 350-mile (560km) internal journey.

Footage broadcast on state television showed frantic scenes at the Yasuj airport with families in a state of disbelief. “Please pray for them to come back alive,” a young woman, in tears, told the interviewer.

A man said he spoke to his brother and father, who were on the plane, 10 minutes before it took off. “They said they’re on their way,” he said.

According to The Guardian report, local media have published the full names of everyone onboard, but officials from the country’s aviation agency said they could not confirm the identities before recovering the bodies. A child was among those believed to have been killed.

The airline had also initially said 60 passengers and six crew were on board the twin-engined turboprop ATR 72 that was flying to the southwestern city of Yasuj. But it later said there were a total of 65 people on board, as one passenger had missed the flight.

Severe weather conditions, including heavy fog, hampered search and rescue operations, which meant helicopters could not fly over the crash site, believed to be in the Zagros mountains near the city of Semirom, in neighbouring Isfahan province.

“12 search and rescue teams … have been dispatched to the area where the plane is believed to have crashed in Semirom’s Mount Dena, which is extremely difficult to reach,” Jalal Pouranfard, a senior provincial official, told the Irna state news agency. “We have not yet found any debris or bodies.”

The Red Crescent Society in Semirom said preparations were under way to fly a drone to locate the crash site. “We can’t dispatch any helicopters because of the bad weather but we’re sending a drone to the area,” an official, Nourmohammad Mousavi, told Irna.

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