Iran shot down plane with two Russian-made missiles, US official says

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5:35 a.m. ET, January 9, 2020

Ukraine is investigating whether an anti-aircraft missile caused the crash

From CNN's Sebastian Shukla in Kiev

Wreckage from the aircraft lay at the scene of the crash on Wednesday.
Wreckage from the aircraft lay at the scene of the crash on Wednesday. Mahmoud Hosseini/dpa/Getty Images

Ukraine is investigating multiple possible causes of Wednesday's deadly jetliner crash that killed 176 passengers and crew shortly after takeoff in Tehran. 

Ukraine’s National Security and Defence council chief, Oleksiy Danilov, wrote on Facebook that a meeting is taking place Thursday with Iranian authorities, where various causes behind the crash are "being studied."

These include the theory that the plane was hit by an anti-aircraft missile, Danilov wrote.

It's still not clear what caused the crash and several explanations, including technical failure, have not been ruled out.

Other theories under consideration are whether the plane collided with a drone or “other flying object”; technical problems with the plane’s engine causing it to explode, or finally whether an explosion inside the plane was a terrorist act.

4:22 a.m. ET, January 9, 2020

Woman had premonition her plane would crash in Iran, husband says. She called him 20 minutes before takeoff

By CNN's Faith Karimi

Victims' possessions are seen scattered at the crash site.
Victims' possessions are seen scattered at the crash site. Abedin Taherkenareh/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Twenty minutes before the plane took off from the Iranian capital, Sheyda Shadkhoo called her husband from aboard the flight. She wanted him to reassure her that everything would be fine, he says.

She'd taken three weeks off from her job in Toronto to visit her mother and sisters in Tehran. Her vacation was over, and she was heading back to Canada to her husband, Hassan Shadkhoo. Her flight was leaving from Tehran to the Ukrainian capital of Kiev.

"I spoke to her ... 20 minutes before the plane took off," he said Wednesday in Toronto. She was worried about the tensions between Tehran and the United States after President Donald Trump ordered the killing of Iranian top general Qasem Soleimani.

"She wanted me to assure her that there wasn't going to be a war. I told her not to worry. Nothing's gonna happen," her husband told CNN's news partner CBC. Then she said goodbye and turned her phone off in preparation for takeoff.

Read the rest of the story here.

4:26 a.m. ET, January 9, 2020

Ukrainian International Airlines releases names of plane crash victims

A man visits a memorial set up at the Boryspil airport outside Kiev, Ukraine for victims of the crash, on January 8.
A man visits a memorial set up at the Boryspil airport outside Kiev, Ukraine for victims of the crash, on January 8. Sergei Supinsky/AFP/Getty Images

Ukrainian International Airlines has released the names of the 176 people aboard Flight PS752 when it crashed in Iran Wednesday while en route to Ukraine.

The names of those killed in the crash can be found here.

The victims include 82 Iranians, 63 Canadians, 11 Ukrainians, 10 Swedes, four Afghans, three Germans and three British nationals, according to Ukraine's Foreign Minister.

The airline previously released the names of the pilots and crew, who died in the crash.

The pilots were:

  • Captain Volodymyr Gaponenko (11,600 hours on Boeing 737 aircraft including 5,500 hours as captain)
  • Instructor pilot Oleksiy Naumkin (12,000 hours on Boeing 737 aircraft including 6,600 hours as captain)
  • First officer Serhii Khomenko (7,600 hours on Boeing 737 aircraft)

The flight attendants were:

  • Ihor Matkov, chief flight attendant
  • Kateryna Statnik
  • Mariia Mykytiuk
  • Valeriia Ovcharuk
  • Yuliia Solohub
  • Denys Lykhno

4:29 a.m. ET, January 9, 2020

Plane caught fire before it crashed, initial report says

A member of the emergency response services walks amid the crash site on Wednesday.
A member of the emergency response services walks amid the crash site on Wednesday. Ebrahim Noroozi/AP

The Iranian Civil Aviation authority has found that Ukrainian Airlines flight PS 752 was on fire before it crashed, it said in an initial report on Thursday, citing witnesses.

The report also mentions that the plane changed directions after a problem and turned back towards the airport. 

1:27 a.m. ET, January 9, 2020

Ukrainian President declares January 9 day of national mourning

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky places flowers near the photographs of the dead at Ukraine's Boryspil airport.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky places flowers near the photographs of the dead at Ukraine's Boryspil airport.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has declared January 9 a day of national mourning.

In the announcement published on his official website, Zelensky also said that he would speak with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to step up cooperation between the two countries to determine the cause of the plane crash.

Forty-five Ukrainian experts have arrived in Tehran to assist with the investigation and to help identify the victims' bodies, Zelensky said.

4:37 a.m. ET, January 9, 2020

What we know about the people killed on board the Boeing 737

From CNN's Artemis Moshtaghian, Joshua Berlinger and Jack Guy

Mourners attend a vigil for crash victims outside the Amir Bakery in North Vancouver, Canada on January 8.
Mourners attend a vigil for crash victims outside the Amir Bakery in North Vancouver, Canada on January 8. Mert Alper Dervi/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Eighty-two Iranians, 63 Canadians, and 11 Ukrainians died onboard flight PS752, according to a tweet from Ukrainian foreign minister Vadym Prystaiko. There were also 10 Swedes, four Afghans, three Germans and three British nationals among the victims, he said.

The Boeing 737 jet operated by Ukraine International Airlines took off early Wednesday en route to the Ukrainian capital Kiev, carrying 167 passengers and nine crew before crashing between the cities of Parand and Shahriar. Witnesses described seeing a fireball in the sky and images of the wreckage show charred parts of the plane strewn over a field.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said 138 of the passengers were supposed to catch a connecting flight to Canada. That flight landed in Toronto Wednesday afternoon with many seats empty.

The captain of the crashed plane has been identified as Volodymyr Gaponenko, an experienced pilot with 11,600 hours flying on Boeing 737 aircraft under his belt. The instructor pilot was Oleksiy Naumkin, also experienced with 12,000 hours on the aircraft. Ukraine International Airlines president, Yevhenii Dykhne, said, "It is impossible that there were mistakes by the crew."

At a press conference in Kiev, he said Tehran airport was "not a simple airport" and the pilots required several years of training to use it.

4:38 a.m. ET, January 9, 2020

What we know about the plane's black boxes

Authorities investigate wreckage from the plane on Wednesday.
Authorities investigate wreckage from the plane on Wednesday. AFP/Getty Images

A plane's so-called "black boxes" — the flight data and cockpit voice recorders — can provide crucial evidence about what happened before a crash.

After the black boxes from Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737 plane were found, Ali Abedzadeh, the head of Iran's Civil Aviation Authority, told Iran's semiofficial Mehr news agency that the US would not be involved at any stage of the investigation.

"We will not give the black box to the manufacturer [Boeing] or America," he said.

Former FAA chief of staff Michael Goldfarb told CNN that move was not necessarily against protocol.

Under international rules, Iran would be the lead investigator of the crash and Ukraine should participate as the state of registry and state of operator of the aircraft.

But the US — where Boeing is designed and manufactured — is not required to be involved in investigations right off the bat, Goldfarb said.

If the black boxes are difficult to discern, if they’re damaged, the three best labs in the world are the British, the French and the NTSB in the US. It’s very common for those three entities to either be given the lead or called in," he said.

But Goldfarb added there was no way the Iranians could refuse to work with Boeing and do justice to the investigation.

"They have to work with Boeing. Boeing has all the data, owns all the drawings and designs, they have the engineers, they know the plane."

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has called for "complete cooperation with any investigation into the cause of the crash," saying that the US would continue to follow the incident closely and was prepared to offer Ukraine "all possible assistance."

5:08 a.m. ET, January 9, 2020

Airline: Unlikely that crash was due to "error"

From CNN’s Anastasia Graham-Yooll

Parts of the Ukrainian International Airlines plane are seen strewn at the site of the crash in Iran on Wednesday.
Parts of the Ukrainian International Airlines plane are seen strewn at the site of the crash in Iran on Wednesday. Chine Nouvelle/SIPA/Shutterstock

Given the level of the crew's experience, it's unlikely that the plane crash was the result of error, Ukrainian International Airlines vice president of operations Ihor Sosnovsky said in a statement on Wednesday.

Tehran airport is anything but a simple one. Therefore, for several years UIA has been using this airport to conduct training on Boeing 737 aircraft aimed at evaluating pilots' proficiency and ability to act in emergency cases. According to our records, the aircraft ascended as high as 2,400 meters. Given the crew's experience, error probability is minimal. We do not even consider such a chance.”

The airline also released the names of the pilots and crew, who died in the crash.

The pilots were:

  • Captain Volodymyr Gaponenko (11,600 hours on Boeing 737 aircraft including 5,500 hours as captain)
  • Instructor pilot Oleksiy Naumkin (12,000 hours on Boeing 737 aircraft including 6,600 hours as captain)
  • First officer Serhii Khomenko (7,600 hours on Boeing 737 aircraft)

The flight attendants were:

  • Ihor Matkov, chief flight attendant
  • Kateryna Statnik
  • Mariia Mykytiuk
  • Valeriia Ovcharuk
  • Yuliia Solohub
  • Denys Lykhno

9:56 p.m. ET, January 8, 2020

Get caught up: What we know about the Boeing plane crash in Ukraine

Emergency crews inspect the scene of the plane crash.
Emergency crews inspect the scene of the plane crash. Ebrahim Noroozi/AP

The cause of the Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737 plane crash today that killed all 176 people on board remains unknown as the investigation continues.

Here's what we do know:

  • Unlikely that crash was due to "error": Given the level of the crew's experience, it's unlikely that the plane crash was the result of error, Ukrainian International Airlines vice president of operations Ihor Sosnovsky said in a statement on Wednesday.
  • Aircraft built in 2016: Ukraine International Airlines said in a statement that the plane was a Boeing 737-800 NG, "built in 2016 and delivered directly to the airline from the manufacturer."
  • Crash under investigation: US intelligence is “taking a look at the crash” of the Ukrainian jet, a US official told CNN, as suspicions rise about what could have caused the jet to crash near the Tehran airport shortly after takeoff.
  • Moment before the crash: The Boeing 737-800 climbed to an altitude of nearly 8,000 feet before the aircraft's data suddenly disappeared, per FlightRadar 24. According to former FAA chief of staff Michael Goldfarb, that is "very unusual" and suggests a "catastrophic" incident, as opposed to engine failure. An airliner should be able to keep flying even if one engine fails, which means pilots normally have time to communicate and recover the aircraft.
  • Airlines' first crash: Ukraine International Airlines (UIA) was founded in 1992 as the national flag carrier, one year after Ukraine got independence from Moscow. According to its website, the airline operates 42 aircraft, connects Ukraine to 38 countries, and its base hub is Kiev's Boryspil International Airport. This is the first crash involving one of the carrier's planes.
  • Ukrainian flights suspended: The country's State Aviation Service (SAS) has suspended all Ukrainian airline flights over Iran’s airspace starting midnight January 9, Ukrainian Prime Minister Oleksiy Honcharuk said in a Facebook post.