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, authorities said. There was no immediate report of casualties among the 11 on board from the aircraft, which days earlier carried a bachelorette party bound for Dubai.
Iranian state television quoted Mojtaba Khaledi, the spokesperson of the country’s emergency management organization, as saying the plane hit a mountain in Shahr-e Kord and burst into flames.
Shahr-e Kord is some 370 kilometres south of the capital, Tehran. The state-run IRNA news agency and state television said rescuers were trying to reach the scene, high up in the Zagros Mountains.
Villagers near the crash say 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. local time Sunday and reached a cruising altitude of just over 10,500 metres, according to FlightRadar24, a flight-tracking website. At around 6:01 p.m., 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.
The semi-official Fars news agency said the plane took off from Sharjah International Airport on its way to Istanbul. A private company that handles public relations for the Sharjah airfield, the home of low-cost airline Air Arabia, declined to immediately comment. Sharjah is a neighbouring emirate of Dubai.
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.
Mina Basaran, a 28-year-old woman who is part of Basaran Holding’s board of managers and is in line to run the business, posted photographs on Instagram of what appeared to be her bachelorette party in Dubai. Among those photographs was an image of the same plane posted three days ago.
The last videos posted to her account showed her and friends enjoying a concert by the British pop star Rita Ora at a popular Dubai nightclub. There was no further activity on her account after that.
It wasn’t clear who was on the plane at the time of the crash, though Iranian emergency management officials described all the passengers as being young women, according to IRNA.
Sunday’s crash comes after an Iranian ATR-72, a twin-engine turboprop used for short-distance regional flying, crashed in southern Iran, killing all 65 people on board in February.