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Last Updated: Tuesday, 10 February, 2004, 16:59 GMT
Eyewitnesses tell of Emirates crash
By Crispin Thorold
BBC, Sharjah

Twisted metal, burnt seats and engine parts were strewn across a residential area, just 3km (2 miles) from the Iranian plane's final destination, Sharjah airport in the United Arab Emirates.

Officials at the site of the Kish Air crash, 10 February 2004
Investigators are gathering evidence
Eyewitnesses said they heard a loud noise before seeing the aircraft.

"The airplane was coming from the north", said Mohammad Ibrahim, 28. "One wing was on fire. At the last moment it turned."

At the scene of the accident, locals watched the clear-up operation from rooftops. By banking the plane sharply, the pilot avoided nearby houses.

An official said 43 of the passengers and crew were killed. Three were rescued by the emergency services.

Mohammad Ibrahim saw one of the survivors just moments after the crash.

"When I arrived there was a man standing, surrounded by fire," he said. "He was very shocked and we got him to sit down. We told the police that he was still alive."

Investigation begins

It is believed that the Kish Airline Fokker-50, travelling from the Iranian island, Kish, landed nose-first.

One policeman, who arrived soon after the accident, said the front of the plane was destroyed on impact, but the back was not damaged.

"When I came there was no shouting, no screaming," he said. "Bodies were taken to the hospital and the firefighters put out the fire."

The tail of the plane is largely intact. Other fragments, most barely recognisable, litter the ground.

Accident investigators are piecing through the debris and one of the flight recorders has been retrieved.

Most of those on board are thought to have been overseas workers based in the United Arab Emirates. Thousands of Asians and Africans work in the UAE.

Kish, an island off the Iranian coast, is a popular destination for so-called visa runs - leaving the country you are working in, for a short time, so you can get a new visa on return.

Nationals of 12 countries died, including 12 Indians, 12 Iranians, and four Egyptians.

The Department of Civil Aviation in the UAE has ruled out terrorism, although it is not yet clear what caused the accident.

Iranian plane crashes in Emirates
10 Feb 04  |  Middle East
Iran plagued by poor aircraft safety
20 Feb 03  |  Middle East
Country profile: United Arab Emirates
23 Dec 03  |  Country profiles
Country profile: Iran
15 Jan 04  |  Country profiles
Air disaster timeline
13 Jan 04  |  In Depth

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