Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752, which crashed shortly after taking off from Tehran’s Imam Khomeini Airport on Wednesday, might have been shot down by an Iranian missile strike. This was stated by US American security officials on Thursday.
According to several media outlets that cited the authorities, the US does not rule out that such a shot down could have been unintentional. In a media statement, President Trump commented: “Somebody could have made a mistake.”
The US intelligence officials say they were able to detect signals of two surface-to-air missile launches shortly after the Ukraine International Boeing 737 had taken off from Tehran at 6:12 am local time, heading to Ukrainian capital Kiev.
A video has been released that appears to show the missile strike. The New York Times reports that it was able to verify the authenticity of the footage. An hit can be seen in the air, when the plane was allegedly struck by at least one of the missiles. It remains unclear why those who launched the attack used two missiles, as one strike is enough to shoot down a plane.
This video adds to imagery that was already published and spread via social media on Wednesday. Previous videos only showed the plane on flames going down and exploding on the ground.
The New York Times concludes from these videos, that the aircraft did not immediately explode in the air, but was hit and started burning, which caused it to crash. Immediately after the missile struck the 737, the Ukrainian pilots apparently started a curve to the right, possibly to attempt a return to Imam Khomeini Airport, were the flight had taken off just minutes earlier.
On board the three and a half year-old plane were 167 passengers and nine crew members, all occupants were killed in the accident. According to information published by the airline and Canadian officials, a total of 138 passengers were due to connect onto another Ukraine International flight from Kiev to Toronto, Canada.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated that intelligence from various sources, including Canadian ones, which “indicated the plane was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile. This may well have been unintentional.” Trudeau also mentioned a call with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte over experience with Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 in his press conference. MH17 was shot down by Russia over eastern Ukraine in during the two countries’ military conflict in 2014.
Trudeau demands a transparent and throughout investigation into the detailed cause of Wednesday’s fatal accident in Iran. It is currently unclear whether the middle-eastern country will allow Canadian on-ground involvement in the probe. The same question stands for the United States, after Iran refused to let aircraft manufacturer Boeing assist with the analysis of the two flight recorders. Kiev has sent a number of experts to Tehran to help with the investigation, a Ukrainian minister stated.
Both Canada and the United States said they stand ready to cooperate with Ukrainian authorities. The US National Transportation Safety Board (NSTB) states it is evaluating its ‘level of participation in the investigation’.
Jakob Wert is an aviation journalist from Germany. He built up the website IFN.news and is the Editor-In-Chief of International Flight Network.