The Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737 that crashed outside Tehran on January 8 had caught fire in flight, the Iran Civil Aviation Organization was cited by the Tasnim News Agency as saying on Thursday.
"The aircraft caught fire during the flight. Eye witnesses say they saw flames engulfing the plane," the statement reads. According to the Iran Civil Aviation Organization, the aircraft exploded on impact with the ground, TASS reports.
The plane made a U-turn after a technical problem had been detected and was returning to the airport, Tasnim News Agency quoted Iran’s Civil Aviation Organization.
"The plane’s trajectory, which was initially heading westwards from the airport, suggests that it made a U-turn after a technical malfunction emerged," the statement reads, adding that "the plane was returning to the airport at the time of the crash." It also noted that there had been no reports from the crew about unusual flight circumstances.
A Ukraine International Airlines flight en route from Tehran to Kiev went down near the Iranian capital on Wednesday shortly after takeoff. According to Ukrainian Foreign Minister Vadim Pristaiko, the crash killed 176 people, including citizens of Iran, Canada, Ukraine, Sweden, Afghanistan, Germany and the United Kingdom.