Ukraine's International Airlines Boeing 737 that crashed outside Tehran had caught fire in flight, the Iran Civil Aviation Organization said.
"The aircraft caught fire during the flight. Eye witnesses say they saw flames engulfing the plane," Tasnim News Agency cited the statement as saying. According to the Iran Civil Aviation Organization, the aircraft exploded on impact with the ground.
"The plane’s trajectory, which was initially heading westwards from the airport, suggests that it made a U-turn after a technical malfunction emerged," the statement reads, adding that "the plane was returning to the airport at the time of the crash." It also noted that there had been no reports from the crew about unusual flight circumstances.
A Ukraine International Airlines flight en route from Tehran to Kiev went down near Tehran shortly after takeoff on January 8, the crash killed 176 people, including citizens of Iran, Canada, Ukraine, Sweden, Afghanistan, Germany and the United Kingdom.