Victims included two pregnant women, four who were engaged to be married and one who had a four-month-old son
'Allah took her early to be with him': Family mourn Sharjah-Istanbul plane crash victims
One was a pregnant fashion entrepreneur whose company has designed workwear for one of the best-known coffee shop chains in Turkey. Another was the daughter of the owner of fashion label Mavi, who was due to get married this summer.
Yet on Sunday, a tragic plane crash in Iran cut short the lives of a party of eight close friends who had travelled to the UAE for a hen party, as well as three female crew members.
The trip was to mark the coming wedding of Turkish socialite and business heiress Mina Basaran, 28. A graduate of the private Koc University, Ms Basaran and her friends were from the wealthiest echelons of Turkish society and were educated in the country’s best institutions and abroad.
Some ran their own fashion and jewellery companies while Ms Basaran was being groomed to succeed her father as head of a business empire, Basaran Investment Holdings, that includes interests in finance, tourism, construction and aviation.
In the past, she had graced the pages of magazines such as Vogue Turkey. Mr Basaran also named Mina Towers, a luxury development in Istanbul, and a US$28.3 million superyacht after his daughter.
She was due to marry Murat Gezer, who runs his own printing firm, at a former Ottoman palace on the banks of the Bosphorus on April 14.
The group recorded their trip to Dubai with posts on social media. One of the last images posted on Instagram by Ms Basaran showed her standing in front of the jet. Clutching a bouquet of flowers, she wore a pair of fluffy pink ears on her head and a denim jacket decorated with an image of an engagement ring and the words “Mrs Bride” and “#bettertogether”.
Another photo showed the hen party crowded together aboard the plane with the flight crew, while the final post showed the eight women in bathrobes at Dubai’s One and Only Royal Mirage hotel.
A video posted to her account showed the friends at a Rita Ora concert in the city.
But their return flight would never make it home to Istanbul. After leaving Sharjah, they got into trouble just over an hour after take-off.
The six Turkish and two Spanish nationals died alongside three female Turkish crew when the Bombardier CL604 business jet owned by Basaran Investment Holding crashed in the Zagros Mountains outside Shahr-e Kord, around 370 kilometres south of Tehran.
Two of the young women were pregnant at the time, Turkish media reported.
Burcu Gundogar Urfali and Jasmin Baruh Siloni were among the women on the luxury break with Ms Basaran, the daughter of Turkish tycoon Huseyin Basaran.
Also among the close-knit group of female friends were three others who were engaged - Zeynep Coskun, Sinem Akay and Ayse And - and were due to marry this summer, with Ms Coskun’s nuptials planned for May 12 in Istanbul.
Ms Coskun, 28, was an architect and the daughter of another wealthy Turkish industrialist. Orhan Coskun is the owner of the Toyota Akkoyunlu motor company in Bursa, northwest Turkey.
Ms And, 30, was a clinical psychologist who studied in New York while Ms Akay, 27, was the daughter of Cetin Akay, the former owner of Mavi Jeans, a hugely popular brand in Turkey. After studying fashion in Italy she founded the Casa di Denim label, a small accessories brand.
Ms Urfali also worked in fashion, having studied in Istanbul and New York, and launched her own brand, Bug Uniform, in 2015 to make corporate outfits.
Ms Siloni and Ms Izmirli were both jewellery designers.
Another of the group, Liana Hananel, the founder of luxury swimwear brand Lily and Rose, had given birth just four months earlier.
The friends had taken it in turns to attend one another’s hen parties.
The all-female crew who also died consisted of pilot Beril Gebes, a former Turkish Airlines pilot who previously flew with the carrier’s Airbus A320 fleet.
Co-pilot Melike Kuvvet was one of the Turkish Air Force’s first female pilots before leaving to join the private sector. She also lectured on aviation at Istanbul Gelisim University.
Her mother Emine was the first of the victims’ relatives to speak after the accident. “Allah loved her more than we did so he took her early to be with him,” she told the Dogan News Agency from her home in Konya, central Turkey.
She said that her daughter had been excited at the prospect of returning to the armed forces in May, when she was due to be promoted to the rank of major.
Cabin attendant Eda Uslu had worked for Basaran for the last year after 10 years’ employment as a member of ground staff with TAV Airports.
Investigators have recovered the “black box” flight data recorder on Monday. The device will give an indication of the cause of the crash, which witnesses said was preceded by a fire on the plane.
Bad weather conditions at the crash site made the operation difficult but the bodies were all recovered and officials said eight had been identified. Iranian media said some were burnt beyond recognition and would have to be identified through DNA.
According to the FlightRadar24 flight-tracking website, the aircraft climbed before dropping altitude rapidly around 6pm local time (14.31 GMT) on Sunday.
Shortly before the crash, the aircraft was given permission by Iranian air traffic control to climb from 11,000 metres to 11,300 metres, Dogan reported.
Air accident investigators from Turkey and a team from the Disaster and Emergency Management Directorate also travelled to the crash site on a military flight to liaise with Iranian investigators, the Turkish Transport Ministry said. The families of the victims also arrived in Shahr-e Kord accompanied by Turkish diplomats.
Hakan Tekin, the Turkish ambassador to Tehran, said all 11 bodies had been found. They will be handed over to their families after post-mortem examinations are carried out.