TEHRAN: A private Turkish plane with 11 people on board, all women, crashed in Iran on Sunday while taking the daughter of a top businessman and her friends back home to Turkey from a celebration in the United Arab Emirates.
Turkish and Iranian officials said there were eight passengers and three crew aboard the plane which crashed in the south of Iran while flying from Sharjah to Istanbul.
Media reports in Turkey said the eight passengers were Mina Basaran, the daughter of a leading Turkish businessman, and her seven friends who had spent the past days in the UAE to celebrate her marriage.
The crew, including the two pilots, were also all female, the reports said.
The reports, carried by the Hurriyet daily and several Turkish TV channels, said the Bombardier Challenger 604 private plane belonged to the Basaran Holding company of Mina’s father Huseyin.
The Istanbul-based Basaran Holding Company is active in the energy, construction and tourism sectors. It also owns hotels.
Reports said that just a day before, the eight young women had posted a picture on social media of themselves smiling and relaxing in Dubai.
The reports said that Mina Basaran had also posted a picture on social media of her boarding the same Bombardier plane before it left Istanbul for the UAE.
She had become engaged in October and the UAE trip was a traditional “farewell” to her friends before marriage.
Mina Basaran, 28, had become a board member of her father’s company already in 2013, Turkish reports said.
Iranian media said the plane went down in a remote mountain in the snow-capped Zagros range during bad weather.
The plane had left the emirate of Sharjah and went down near the city of Shahr-e Kord, about 400 kilometres (250 miles) south of Tehran, Iranian state television reported.
Reza Jafarzadeh, head of the Iran Civil Aviation Organisation, confirmed it had eight passengers and three crew members on board.
The cause of the crash was not immediately clear.
Hurriyet said both pilots on the plane were women as was the crew member, meaning all those on board are female.
One pilot was a former Turkish army fighter jet who had been one of Turkey’s first female pilots, it said. The other had worked in the past for flag carrier Turkish Airlines.
Tasnim news agency quoted an ICAO official as saying: “The plane is on fire. After the pilot asked to lower altitude, it disappeared from the radar.”
Iranian media reported that rescuers had been dispatched by land to the crash site, which is located in a relatively isolated area Helen’s Mountain — a protected area in the Zagros range.
Some reports said the plane went down during heavy rain.
The head of Iran’s Red Crescent, Morteza Salimi, told state television that two helicopters would fly to the area on Monday morning “to search for the plane’s debris and bodies” — indicating there could be no survivors.
The Zagros range was the scene of another aviation tragedy in February when an ATR-72 twin engine passenger plane of Iran’s Aseman Airlines crashed there killing all 66 people on board.
The plane had disappeared from radar after taking off from Tehran on a domestic flight as a snowstorm battered the mountains.
Rescue teams had to battle bad weather for days before they were able to recover the black boxes of that aircraft and had to interrupt their operation several times because of bad weather.
They are still working on bringing the remains of those killed down the valley from the crash site which lies at a height of about 4,000 metres (13,000 feet).