Plane Crash in Tehran Kills More than 100

A military transport plane carrying Iranian journalists plows into an apartment complex in Iran's capital city, Tehran. The crash leaves more than 100 dead and dozens more injured.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

In Iran today, more than 100 people were killed when a military transport plane slammed into an apartment complex. The plane was loaded with Iranian journalists. Roxana Saberi has details from Tehran.

Unidentified Man: (Foreign language spoken)

ROXANA SABERI reporting:

All the passengers and crew on board the C-130 military transport plane perished when it crashed into the apartment building. Dozens more on the ground were killed or injured. Officials say more than 90 people were on the plane, the majority of them Iranian journalists; the rest, military personnel. State TV said the aircraft had just taken off from the nearby Mehrabad Airport for Bandar Abbas in southern Iran when it experienced a mechanical failure. The plane was trying to make it back to Mehrabad for an emergency landing when it hit the building, just south of the airport here in the working-class neighborhood of Yaft-Abad.

Shortly after the crash, thousands of Iranians crowded outside the gated apartment complex. Many of them desperately tried to get news about their loved ones inside.

Unidentified Woman: (Foreign language spoken)

SABERI: This woman said her brother lived here with his wife and daughter. She said, `I don't know what happened to them. I can't get any news.'

Security forces initially blocked many of them from entering while ambulances tried to make their way into the complex. Anti-riot police were called in to control the crowds. One air force officer on the scene said the plane crashed into the lower floors, exploded and sent flames spreading up the 10-story building. He said he helped pull three to four charred bodies from the wreckage. The officer said Iran had bought the C-130 transport plane from the US before Iran's Islamic revolution of 1979. He said the country's C-130s are in bad condition because US sanctions prevent Tehran from getting spare parts.

The journalists on board the doomed aircraft were going to report on a military maneuver in southern Iran.

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SABERI: Many of them worked for state-run TV, which is broadcasting photos and stories of their employees who were on board. Majid Mardonion(ph) is an Iranian journalist who was planning to go on the flight but changed his mind. One of his friends was a photographer who had just become the father of twin girls.

Mr. MAJID MARDONION (Journalist): (Foreign language spoken)

SABERI: `I feel horrible,' he said. `They were too good to die in that old plane.' Roxana Saberi for NPR News, Tehran.

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