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Ukraine Leader Warns About Unconfirmed Theories On Tehran Plane Crash

Body bags after Ukrainian plane crash outside Tehran-- 8 Jan 2020

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday warned against speculation and unconfirmed theories on the crash of a Ukrainian Boeing 737 near the Iranian capital Tehran which killed 177 people shortly after Iran launched a missile attack against two bases in Iraq which also host U.S. forces.

"I ask everyone to keep from speculating and putting forth unconfirmed theories about the crash," Zelensky wrote on Facebook amid speculations that the Ukrainian air carrier had been downed by a terrorist act or was related to Iran's missile attack last night.

"We have prepared emergency planes to send to Tehran... to fly out the bodies of the victims, we are waiting for a confirmation by Iran for their departure," Zelensky who has ordered a crisis team including top ministers to investigate the incident, wrote in his message.

The Ukrainian Boeing crashed Wednesday shortly after takeoff from Imam Khomeini International Airport (60 km to the south of Tehran) in the outskirts of the Iranian capital between Parand and Shahriar.

The Ukrainian embassy in Tehran reported that an engine failure rather than terrorism or a missile attack had caused the crash.

The Ukrainian Embassy in Tehran said the plane went down "due to an engine problem" and ruled out "an act of terror" for the moment.

The majority of the passengers were Iranian and Iranian-Canadians. Several Ukrainian, Afghan, British and Swedish nationals were also among the passengers. According to the Iranian news agencies, at least a dozen young Iranian academic including 14 masters students from Sharif Industrial University and a former health ministry deputy were among the passengers of the flight.

The crash came hours after Iran launched a ballistic missile attack targeting two bases in Iraq housing U.S. forces in retaliation for the killing of its Qods Force Commander General Qassem Soleimani.

With reporting from Reuters and AFP