A Ukrainian airliner, which crashed shortly after takeoff from Tehran with the loss of all 176 people on board, had turned back after experiencing a problem, Iranian authorities said.
“The plane, which was initially headed west to leave the airport zone, turned right following a problem and was headed back to the airport at the moment of the crash,” the Iranian Civil Aviation Organization said on its website late Wednesday.
“The plane disappeared from radar screens the moment it reached 8,000 feet (2,400 meters). The pilot sent no radio message about the unusual circumstances.
“According to eyewitnesses, a fire was seen on board the plane which grew in intensity,” the organization added, reporting the first findings of its investigation into Wednesday’s crash.
The organization said it had questioned witnesses both on the ground and on board a second aircraft which was flying above the Ukrainian Boeing 737 as the disaster unfolded.
Earlier, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in a television statement that his government was considering several possible causes of the crash and asked people to refrain from manipulation, speculation, conspiracy theories and hasty evaluations regarding Iran plane crash.