157 passengers cheat death as plane bursts into flames
The 157 passengers aboard a Russian-made Tupolev aircraft miraculously escaped death when it crash-landed and burst into flames in north-eastern Iran yesterday.
There were no fatalities and just 42 Iranians were injured, none seriously, when the plane crashed at Mashhad city's airport.
The country's official IRNA news agency said the rear end of the plane, which belonged to Iran's domestic airliner, Taban, caught fire while landing.
Mashhad is a popular destination for pilgrims among Iran's majority Shi'ite Muslims.
Russia's federal air transport agency has said it will investigate the reasons behind the fire, adding that "weather conditions and visibility problems" were the most likely causes of the incident.
Iran has suffered a string of crashes in the past few decades, many involving Russian-made aircraft.
Last year, another Tupolev crashed in Iran after it had caught fire in mid-air. All 168 people on board were killed.
US sanctions have prevented Iran from buying new aircraft or spare parts from the West for its fleet of Boeing and Airbus planes. This has forced it to buy aircraft from Russia and other former Soviet states.