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Iran's Aria Air suspends activities after deadly plane accident
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11:50, July 26, 2009

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Iran's Aria Air airline suspended its activities on Saturday, a day after its passenger plane skidded off the runway in northeastern Iranian city of Mashhad, killing 16 people on board.

"The Aria Air suspended its activities until further notice," the official IRNA news agency quoted spokesman for Iran's Civil Aviation Organization Reza Ja'far-Zadeh as saying.

The Russian-made Ilyushin Il-62 plane, which was travelling from Tehran to Mashhad with 153 passengers on board, caught fire and skidded into walls near the runway during its landing in Mashhad at 18:10 local time (1340 GMT) Friday.

Thirteen of the 16 people killed in the plane incident were crew members and the other three were Iranian passengers, Ja'far-Zadeh said. IRNA reported on Friday that 17 people had been killed.

Nine of the dead crew were from Kazakhstan and the other four were Iranians, Ja'far-Zadeh said, adding that around 30 people of the 153 people on board were injured.

The plane was leased by Aria Air from Kazakhstan, IRNA reported.

Commenting on the reasons behind the plane crash, Ja'far-Zadeh said, "The unauthorized speed while landing seemed to be one of the reasons for the crash."

Deputy Governor of Khorasan Razavi Province Qahreman Rashid was quoted as saying on Friday that Aria Air's managing director Mehdi Dadpay was among the victims of the plane incident.

Video aired by Iran's English-language satellite channel Press TV showed that the cockpit of the Russian-made plane was totally damaged.

State television reported that the plane was apparently flying too fast when it tried to land at the airport and the accident might be due to a malfunction of the front wheels.

It was the second deadly air accident involving an Iranian airliner within 10 days. On July 15, a Caspian Airlines plane crashed near the northwestern city of Qazvin, killing all 168 people on board.

The Russia-made Tupolev passenger plane had been traveling from Tehran to the Armenian capital of Yerevan.

The cause of the disaster was not clear so far, but the officials have attributed the incident to the technical problems of the Caspian Airlines plane.

In the past, Iran's airlines have suffered a number of flight disasters, both civil and military use.

Experts believe that the U.S.-imposed sanctions against Iran, which prevented its allies from selling aircraft or aircraft parts to the country, have undermined safety standards within Iran's civil and military aviation fleet and is increasing the likelihood of more major air disasters.


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