Ukraine names Iran plane crash theories, including missile strike
KIEV/TEHRAN-Reuters/The Associated Press
A Ukrainian passenger jet carrying 176 people crashed on Jan. 8, just minutes after taking off from the Iranian capital's main airport, turning farmland on the outskirts of Tehran into fields of flaming debris and killing all on board. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)
A top Ukrainian security official on Jan. 9 set out what he said were the four main theories for why a Ukrainian airliner crashed in Iran the previous day killing 176 people, including a possible missile strike and terrorism.
Oleksiy Danylov, secretary of Ukraine's National Security and Defence Council, made his statement as an initial report by Iranian investigators said the plane, a Boeing 737-800, had been on fire immediately before it crashed.
Ukraine is looking at various possible causes of the crash, including a possible missile attack, a collision, an engine explosion or terrorism, he wrote in a Facebook post.
The crash happened hours after Iran launched missile attacks on U.S.-led forces in Iraq, leading some to speculate that the plane may have been hit.
But an initial assessment by Western intelligence agencies was that the plane had suffered a technical malfunction and had not been brought down by a missile, five security sources - three Americans, one European and the Canadian - who asked not to be named, told Reuters.
Danylov said Ukrainian investigators in Iran wanted to search the crash site for possible debris of a Russian missile after seeing reports about its possible existence on the internet.
He referred to an unverified image being circulated on Iranian social media purportedly showing the debris of a Russian-made Tor-M1 surface-to-air missile of the kind used by the Iranian military.
"Our (investigative) commission is talking to the Iranian authorities about visiting the crash site and is determined to search for fragments of a Russian Tor air defence missile about which there was information on the internet," Danylov separately told Ukrainian news site Censor.net.
He said Ukraine would draw on expertise learnt from carrying out its own investigation into the 2014 shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH-17 over eastern Ukraine, an incident that killed all 298 people on board.
Meanwhile, Iranian investigators said on Jan. 9 the crew members of the Ukrainian jetliner that crashed the previous day never made a radio call for help and were trying to turn back to the airport when the plane went down.
Iran's civil aviation authority made the comments in a preliminary crash report a day after the crash of the Ukrainian jetliner that killed all 176 people on board.
The investigators also said that the plane was engulfed in fire before it crashed.
They said the crash caused a massive explosion when the plane hit the ground, likely because the aircraft had been fully loaded with fuel for the flight to Kyiv, Ukraine.
The report also confirmed that both of the so-called "black boxes'' that contain data and cockpit communications from the plane had been recovered, though they had damaged and some parts of their memory was lost.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy meanwhile said the crash investigators from his country had arrived in Iran to assist in the probe.
He also said he planned to call President Hassan Rouhani about the crash and the investigation.
Undoubtedly, the priority for Ukraine is to identify the causes of the plane crash,'' Zelenskiy said.
"We will surely find out the truth.''