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Ukraine airliner accidentally downed by Iran, U.S. officials say

A Ukraine airliner that crashed in Iran, killing all 176 people aboard, was most likely brought down accidentally by Iranian air defences, U.S. officials said on Thursday (January 9), as President Donald Trump said he had a terrible feeling about the disaster.

One U.S. official said U.S. satellites had detected the launch of two missiles shortly before the plane crashed, followed by evidence of an explosion. Two officials said Washington believed the downing of the plane was accidental.

Speaking to reporters, Trump said the crash could have been a mistake, adding he had a terrible feeling about the downed airliner but offering no evidence.

Ukraine meanwhile outlined four potential scenarios to explain the crash, including a missile strike and terrorism, as Iranian investigators said the plane was on fire before it fell to the ground.

Kiev said its investigators wanted to search the site of Wednesday’s (January 8) crash southwest of Tehran for possible debris of a Russian-made missile used by Iran’s military. An initial report by Iran’s civil aviation organisation said the plane had experienced an unspecified technical problem.

The crash happened hours after Iran launched missile attacks on U.S.-led forces in Iraq, leading some to speculate that the plane may have been hit.

On Wednesday (January 8) Iranian state tv broadcast images of an item purporting to the aircraft’s black box” cockpit voice and flight data recorder.

Smouldering debris, including shoes and clothes, was strewn across a field where the plane crashed. Rescue workers in face masks laid out scores of body bags.

(Production: Paul Warren, Aiden Nulty)

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