Bodies of the five Armenians pilots killed in a plane crash in Iran last week will be flown to Yerevan on Tuesday for official mourning ceremonies and burial. The crew of an Armenian-owned passenger jet encased in coffins will lay in state at the Zvartnots international airport where relatives and colleagues of the victims will pay their final respects.
The Soviet-made Yak-40 carrying about 25 passengers, among them Iran's Roads and Transport Minister Rahman Dadman, went down in the northeastern Mazandaran province on Thursday in unknown circumstances. It reportedly disappeared from radar screens after the head pilot announced he will try to make an emergency landing in bad weather in the town of Sari. Search teams found the wreckage of the plane on a mountainside about 20 kilometers from Sari.
Iranian Transport Minister Rahman Dadman
One of the plane's two black boxes found by search teams was being examined in Moscow by international civil aviation experts, officials in Yerevan said. A spokeswoman for the Armenian Airlines, which leased the plane to Iran's Faraz Qeshm Airlines for domestic flights, said the crash is unlikely to have been caused by a technical failure.
The official, Tamar Sarkisian, told RFE/RL that the 23-year-old Yak-40 underwent a regular maintenance and check-up in Armenia last March and met international safety standards. She said the plane had registered only 11,000 out of 30,000 permitted flight-hours. The Iranian Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) likewise said on Sunday that it had all the necessary facilities required by the International Civil Aviation Organization.
The BBC quoted the CAA chief, Behzad Mazaheri, as telling Iranian state television the previous day that the disaster may have been caused by lightning. He said such a conclusion has been made by a preliminary investigation conducted by the Iranian authorities.