BREAKING, U.S. Officials Say Ukrainian Airliner
That Crashed, Killing 176, Was Shot Down by Iran.
A Ukraine airliner that crashed in Iran, killing all 176 people aboard, was most likely brought
down accidentally by Iranian anti-aircraft missiles, U.S. officials said on Thursday. According to satellite data, one U.S. official
said, the Ukrainian International Airlines Boeing 737-800 bound for Kiev was airborne
for two minutes after departing Tehran when the heat signatures of two surface-to-air
missiles were detected. That was quickly followed by an explosion
in the vicinity of the plane, the official said. Heat signature data then showed the
plane on fire as it went down. Iran’s head of civil aviation was quoted
by ISNA News Agency as saying that it was “impossible that a missile hit the Ukrainian
plane.” Two U.S. officials said Washington believed
the downing of the plane, which occurred at a time of rising tensions between Iran and
the United States, was accidental. An Iranian report on Thursday cited witnesses
on the ground and in a passing aircraft flying at a high altitude as saying the plane was
on fire while in the air. U.S. President Donald Trump said on Thursday
the deadly crash could have been a mistake and he did not believe it was a mechanical
issue. Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration
declined to comment on Thursday, as did the Pentagon. Boeing is still reeling from two deadly crashes
of 737 MAX planes in five months that led to the plane’s grounding in March 2019.
The 737-800 that crashed was built in 2016 and is the prior generation of the 737 before
the MAX. Boeing has built about 5,000 of those planes, which has a good safety record.