Thursday, 16 July 2009 12:00 AM
The crash site in Iran where Caspian Airlines flight 7908 went down yesterday is currently being examined and the plane's black boxes have been found.
The scheduled commercial flight from Tehran to the capital of Armenia, Yerevan, plunged to the ground after catching fire mid-air near the city of Qazvin, 75 miles north-west of Tehran.
All 153 passengers and 15 crewmembers were killed in the air disaster, which is the third major plane crash in the past six weeks worldwide.
Iranian transport ministry officials are on the scene and confirmed to the IRNA news agency that plane's black box recording and flight systems have been found.
Local media have shown pictures of a smoking crater littered with plane debris, body parts and clothes.
Armenian civil aviation officials have said the pilot attempted to land the plane with an engine on fire and witnesses have backed this up.
"I was driving my tractor when I saw a big fire in the sky," 18-year-old farmer Ahmad told AFP.
"There were burnt parts scattered across the ground and I followed them and arrived at the crater. You could not believe your eyes. Nothing was left, but just a big hole with fire coming out of it."
Reports indicate that 147 passengers were Iranian, four Armenians and two Georgians. Members of the Iran junior national judo team are also reported to be among the dead.
Australian officials have reported that two of the victims were Australian citizens - a brother and sister who may have had dual nationality.
Caspian Airlines flight 7908 was a Soviet-designed Tupolev Tu-154, an aircraft produced by the Russian aircraft industry between 1972 and 1994.
Commentators are blaming the poor maintenance record of the Iranian flight industry since the revolution in 1979 and the imposition of sanctions by western governments.