A Turkish private jet flying from the United Arab Emirates to Istanbul carrying a group of young women crashed Sunday night in a mountainous region of Iran during a heavy rain, killing all 11 people on board, authorities said.
Iranian state television quoted Mojtaba Khaledi, the spokesman of the country’s emergency management organization, as saying the plane hit a mountain near Shahr-e Kord and burst into flames. Shahr-e Kord is some 370 kilometers (230 miles) south of the capital, Tehran.
Khaledi later told a website associated with state TV that local villagers had reached the site in the Zagros Mountains and found 11 badly burned bodies in the wreckage. He said DNA tests would be needed to identify the dead.
Villagers near the crash earlier said they saw flames coming from the plane’s engine before the crash, according to a report by Iran’s state-run judiciary news agency Mizan.
The plane took off around 4:41 p.m. (1311 GMT; 9:11 a.m. EST) Sunday and reached a cruising altitude of just over 35,000 feet, according to FlightRadar24, a flight-tracking website. At around 6:01 p.m. (1431 GMT; 10:31 a.m. EST), something appears to have gone wrong with the flight as it rapidly gained altitude and then dropped drastically within minutes, data published by the website showed.
Iranian officials said the plane took off from Sharjah International Airport on its way to Istanbul.
Turkey’s private Dogan News Agency identified the plane as a Bombardier CL604, tail number TC-TRB. Turkey’s Transport Ministry said the plane belongs to a company named Basaran Holding, which The Associated Press could not immediately reach.
Basaran Investment Holding is active in the food, finance, energy, construction, tourism and travel industries, according to the company’s website.