The New York Times

The New York Times 13 Jan 2020

Iran Shot Down a Ukrainian Passenger Plane. Here's How it Happened.


Iranians have taken to the streets in protest after the government admitted, following three days of denials, that it accidentally shot down a Ukrainian passenger jet. Here's everything we know about that seven-minute flight.

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A passenger plane with nearly 100 people on board has crashed in a residential area in the Pakistani city of Karachi, killing at least 30 people and wounding many others, officials said.
The Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) plane was close to landing at Karachi's Jinnah International Airport when it came down among houses, sending plumes of smoke into the air that could be seen from some distance away.
It was unclear if the dead were all passengers or also included people on the ground.
Al Jazeera's Leah Harding reports.
A passenger plane with at least 100 people on board has crashed in a residential area in the Pakistani city of Karachi, the country's civil aviation agency said on Friday.

"The plane crashed in Karachi. We are trying to confirm the number of passengers but initially it is 99 passengers and eight crew members," said Abdul Sattar Khokhar, the spokesman for the country's aviation authority, adding that the flight was coming from Lahore.

The flight, confirmed as PK8303, was due to land in Karachi at 14:45 local time (09:45 GMT). The Airbus A320 plane was operated by state-run Pakistan International Airlines.

There were no immediate reports on the number of casualties or survivors but a relative of a passenger on board the plane told Al Jazeera she was able to contact him after the crash.

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We first learned that it was a missile
that took down a Ukrainian airliner over Iran
because of this video showing the moment of impact.
All 176 people on board were killed.
To find out what happened to Flight 752
after it left Tehran airport on Jan. 8,
we collected flight data, analyzed witness videos
and images of the crash site,
to paint the clearest picture yet
of that disastrous seven-minute flight.
We’ll walk you through the evidence, minute by minute,
from the plane’s takeoff to the moment it crashed.
It’s the early hours of Wednesday, Jan. 8.
Iran has just launched ballistic missiles
at U.S. military targets in Iraq
in retaliation for an American drone strike
that killed Iranian military leader Qassim Suleimani.
Iranian defenses are on high alert,
on guard for a possible U.S. attack.
Four hours later, at Tehran’s
Imam Khomeini International Airport,
Flight 752 operated by Ukraine International Airlines
is getting ready for departure.
At 6:12 a.m., the plane takes off.
It follows its regular route, flies northwest
and climbs to almost 8,000 feet in around three minutes,
according to flight tracker data.
Until now, the plane’s transponder
has been signaling normally.
But just before 6:15 a.m., it stops.
We don’t yet know why.
But we do know the plane keeps flying.
And within 30 seconds, a missile hits it.
A video filmed here captures the moment.
Let’s watch it again and slow it down.
Here’s the missile,
and here’s the plane.
Where did the missile come from?
Just a few miles away are military sites equipped
with Iranian defense systems.
A nearby security camera films a missile being launched
from one of those sites shortly after 6:15 a.m.
The missile hits the plane seconds later.
An Iranian military commander said
a defense system operator mistook the passenger jet
for a cruise missile.
The missile sets the plane on fire.
But the jet continues flying for several minutes.
We don’t know its precise path after 6:15 a.m.
But we do know that it turns back
in the direction of the airport, engulfed by flames.
Around 6:19 a.m., a bystander films the plane
slowly going down.
There appears to be a second explosion
before the jetliner plummets outside Tehran
about 10 miles from where the last signal was sent.
Footage from a security camera shows the scene
as the plane crashes toward it.
Here we see the immediate aftermath of the crash.
As day breaks, another witness films the smoldering wreckage.
Debris is spread out over 1,500 feet
along a small park, orchards and a soccer field,
narrowly missing a nearby village.
A large section of the plane looks badly charred.
More jet parts are found here.
And the plane’s tail and wheels land
over 500 feet away.
It is a gruesome scene.
The passengers’ personal items —
toys, clothes, photo albums —
are scattered around.
After days of denials, Iran took responsibility
for the crash, blaming human error
at a moment of heightened tensions.

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