Breaking: US Intel looking at crash of Ukrainian jet in Iran

U.S. & World

(CNN)- US intelligence is “taking a look at the crash” of the Ukrainian jet last night, a US official tells CNN, as suspicions rise about what could have caused a Boeing jet to crash near the Tehran airport shortly after takeoff.

If there was a missile fired, there would be a heat signature that would be captured by US military and intelligence systems. So far, a review of the imagery has not found any telltale sign, according to another US official, but the scrutiny continues. 

Intelligence analysts will also review images of the wreckage for indications of explosions from inside or outside the aircraft, as well as other intelligence.

The possibility of such an explosion is not farfetched, according to one expert.

Former NTSB Managing Director Peter Goelz told CNN the initial evidence suggests something other than a mechanical malfunction. 

“I think you’ve got to look very carefully at the nefarious,” he said.

“The plane was at 7,800 feet which would minimize but wouldn’t eliminate bird strike,” but apparent video of the incident shows what Goelz called “a pretty big fire.”

“There’s stuff coming off the plane,” he said.

(CBS News)- A Ukrainian passenger jet carrying 176 people crashed Wednesday just minutes after taking off from the Iranian capital’s main airport, killing all on board. It turned farmland on Tehran’s outskirts into fields of flaming debris.

The crash of the Ukraine International Airlines aircraft came hours after Iran launched a ballistic missile attack on two Iraqi bases housing U.S. troops.

Iranian officials said they suspected a mechanical issue brought down the 3-1/2-year-old Boeing 737-800. Ukrainian officials initially agreed, but later backed away and declined to offer a cause while the investigation is ongoing.

Unverified video from Iranian TV appears to show the flight on fire before it went down in a field. The video, which has not been authenticated by CBS News, appears to show the plane zig-zagging while descending before exploding into a fireball.

The carrier said the plane had its last routine maintenance Monday, Agence France Press (AFP) reported.

Airline officials said most of the passengers were en route to the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, transiting through there to other destinations.

Staff at the Boryspil airport in Kiev told CBS News passengers on that flight are usually Iranian students coming back to Ukraine after winter holidays.

The plane had 167 passengers and nine crew members from different nations. Ukraine’s foreign minister, Vadym Prystaiko, said there were 82 Iranians, 63 Canadians and 11 Ukrainians on board — the Ukrainian nationals included two passengers and the nine crew. There were also 10 Swedish, four Afghan, three German and three British nationals.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky extended his condolences to the families of the victims. The country’s prime minister, Oleksiy Honcharuk, confirmed the casualty toll.

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