Boeing-737 crashes at Tehran airport

No survivors expected after massive explosion, piling further woe on embattled planemaker

A Ukrainian Boeing-737 carrying 176 people has crashed in Iran, minutes after taking off from Tehran airport.

The crash happened at 06:12 local time (02:42 GMT). Ukraine's Tehran embassy said at first that engine failure was to blame, while Iranian media blamed technical problems.

However, there is speculation that the plane could have been shot down by a terrorist or missile attack, or that it had been hit accidentally or had been in collision with a military drone.

The explosion sent debris up to six miles from the airport, but no survivors are likely as the aircraft exploded into flames as it crashed.

The incident will increase tension in the Middle East, which is already high following the assassination of general Qasem Soleimani in a US drone strike on January 3, 2019. In retaliation for the attack on the general, Iran has fired 22 ballistic missiles against two Iraqi bases housing US and coalition troops, sending the oil price rising and futures markets into panic.

According to the BBC, Ukraine International Airlines has suspended flights to Tehran indefinitely. The airline said that the Boeing 737-800 was built in 2016 and had its last scheduled maintenance on Monday.

Bjarne Schieldrop, chief commodities analyst at SEB, the Nordic corporate bank, said: “Although the market was duly warned about upcoming Iranian retaliation attacks on US installations and armed forces the oil price still spiked up to almost $72 per barrel following the Iranian rocket attacks on two US Iraqi bases last night ( morning of 8 January).

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“Not a single drop of oil supply has been lost due to the recent incidents and this is why the oil price has fallen back down again so quickly. What the market fears is that the situation spirals out of control, with an uncontrollable escalation leading to outright war.”

The crash piles on further woes for Boeing, which fired its CEO Dennis Muilenburg just before Christmas amid the debacle over the 737 Max.

Boeing grounded the 737 Max after the aircraft was involved in two major crashes, in October 2018 and March 2019 that killed 346 people. Both fatal accidents were blamed on faults on flight deck equipment in the new airliner. It was due to restart production of the aircraft but this has now been halted.

FURTHER READING Boeing investigation reveals additional 737 MAX concerns

FURTHER READING Boeing may issue bonds to cover 737 MAX expenses

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