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Iran plane crash wreckage found on top of mountain

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Related Story: Plane crashes in Iran, all 65 people on board feared dead

Iran has located a passenger plane that crashed with 65 people on board, a military spokesman says, two days after it disappeared from radars over mountainous terrain.

Key points:

  • Glacial temperatures and mountainous terrain hampered search and rescue efforts
  • The wreckage was spotted by a military done and helicopters were sent to the coordinates
  • The plane had hit the top of the mountain before crashing 30 metres further down

The Aseman Airlines flight from Tehran disappeared on Sunday, 50 minutes into its journey to the south-western city of Yasuj.

The spokesman said it had crashed into a mountain. No-one is expected to have survived.

Glacial temperatures and mountainous terrain hampered search and rescue efforts, adding to the grief and anger felt by families of the victims and wider society in a country that blames decades of sanctions for the poor state of its planes.

The twin-engine turboprop ATR 72 was more than 24 years old.

According to data cited by the Flight Safety Foundation's aviation-safety.net website, it had been restored to service just three months ago after being in storage for six years.

The wreckage was finally spotted by a military drone, Revolutionary Guards spokesman Ramezan Sharif said.

"Two helicopters were sent to the coordinates that the drone had located, and found the wreckage," he told state television.

"The plane had hit top of the mountain before crashing 30 metres further down."

A group of men point and look up at the sky.

State television aired footage showing the plane crash site against the side of a snow-covered mountain near Yasuj.

"Some large parts of the plane, which were labelled with the Aseman company logo, were seen," said a helicopter pilot interviewed by state television, identified only as Captain Soheili.

Searchers to retrieve black box data

Authorities hoped searchers would recover the aircraft's "black boxes" later on Tuesday.

That equipment, typically painted in a bright colour to allow searchers to easily find it, records cockpit conversations and radio transmissions, as well as other data from a flight.

"If the conditions are right, the 'black box' will be taken out of the plane today and will be delivered to Aseman Airlines," the semi-official ILNA news agency quoted Masoud As'adi Samani, the secretary of Iran's Air Society Association, as saying.

After a long wait to locate the plane, families would have to endure further delays until the bodies of their loved ones were returned as helicopters were unable to land in the hostile terrain and the work would have to be carried out on foot, an emergency service official said.

More than 100 people demonstrated outside a local government office in Dena Kooh county on Monday, demanding officials step down for their handling of the disaster after announcements that wreckage had been found on Monday were then denied.

A video on Tasnim news agency showed an angry man shouting at Iran's Minister of Roads and Urban Development Abbas Akhoundi: "Would you have flown on the same plane?"

Iran has suffered several plane crashes in the past few decades.

Tehran blames US sanctions for preventing it from importing new aircraft or spare parts.

A deal with world powers on Iran's nuclear program has lifted some of those sanctions, opening the way for Iranian airlines to update their fleets, but many older planes are still in service, particularly on domestic routes.

Reuters/AP

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