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119 die as plane plunges into apartment

Ten-storey housing complex catches fire after impact; 25 residents among victims, over 90 injured



ENGULFED IN FLAMES: The building into which a military plane crashed in Teheran on Tuesday. — PHOTO: AP

TEHERAN: An Iranian military transport plane crashed into a 10-storey apartment building as it was trying to make an emergency landing on Tuesday, smashing a hole in the top of the building and setting it ablaze. At least 119 persons were killed.

All 94 persons on the plane were killed, most of them Iranian journalists heading to cover military manoeuvres in the south.

Twenty-five residents of the apartment building also died, and 90 were injured, Teheran state radio said.

A large gash was torn in the top floor of the building.

Flames leapt out of windows from the roof and several other floors as panicked residents fled the Towhid residential complex, a series of high-rise apartment buildings for army personnel in the Azadi suburb of Teheran.

Gas station hit

Wreckage rained down, hitting a nearby gas station, police said. Cars parked below were smashed by falling debris.

At the foot of the blackened building, what appeared to be a pile of wreckage was in flames.


Firefighters managed to put out the fire in the building, which was damaged and charred but still standing. Police cordoned off the area, preventing journalists and a crowd of thousands of people from nearing the site. Many in the crowd were screaming, afraid their relatives had been killed.

``It was like an earthquake,'' said Reza Sadeqi, a 25-year-old merchant, who saw the plane hit the building. ``The force of the crash threw me about 3 metres inside my shop.''

``I felt the heat of the fire caused by the crash. It was like being in hell,'' he said.

The C-130 aircraft had just taken off from the nearby Mehrabad airport en route to Bandar Abbas, a port city in southern Iran. It experienced a technical problem and was returning to Mehrabad for an emergency landing when it hit the building, state-run television said.

The plane, which belonged to the army air force, carried 84 passengers and 10 crew members, Iranian television reported. All aboard were killed, the Mayor of Teheran said.

In April, an Iranian Airlines Boeing 707 with 157 people aboard skidded off a runway at Teheran airport and caught fire, killing three persons. — AP

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