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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 October 2018

Private plane from Sharjah to Turkey crashes, killing 11

Turkish media said the passengers were Mina Basaran, daughter of a Turkish businessman, and her seven friends who had spent the past days in the UAE to celebrate her marriage, plus three crew

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 UAE.

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.

Iranian media said the plane went down in remote mountains in the snow-capped Zagros range during bad weather.

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 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 of themselves smiling and relaxing in Dubai on social media.

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Among those photographs was an image of the plane posted three days ago. In it, Ms Basaran posed on the tarmac carrying flowers, wearing a denim jacket reading “Mrs. Bride” and the hashtag “#bettertogether.” In another picture, she holds heart-shaped balloons inside the plane.

The last videos posted to her account showed her enjoying a concert by the British pop star Rita Ora at a popular Dubai nightclub. There was no further activity on her account after that.

Ms Basaran, 28, had also posted a picture on social media of her boarding the same Bombardier plane before it left Istanbul for the UAE, the reports added.

She became engaged in October and the UAE trip was a traditional "farewell" to her friends before marriage.

Ms Basaran had become a board member of her father’s company in 2013, Turkish reports said.

The plane had left from the emirate of Sharjah and crashed near the city of Shahr-e Kord, about 400km south of Tehran, Iranian state television reported.

Sharjah Civil Aviation Department said in a statement that the plane “did not apply for maintenance procedures while on the ground at the airport”.

The plane took off at 5.16pm local time and disappeared from the radar screen at 3.30pm GMT, said the statement carried by state news agency WAM.

It said the eight passengers on board were six Turks and two Spaniards. It did not give the nationality of the three crew members.

Reza Jafarzadeh, head of the Iran Civil Aviation Organisation, confirmed the plane had eight passengers and three crew members on board.

The cause of the crash was not immediately clear.

Hurriyet said one of the pilots formerly flew Turkish army fighter jets as one of the country’s first female pilots. 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.”

Mina Basaran was in the UAE with seven friends to celebrate her hen party. Instagram @minabasaran
Mina Basaran was in the UAE with seven friends to celebrate her hen party. Instagram @minabasaran

Iranian media reported that rescuers had been dispatched by land to the crash site, which is located in a relatively isolated area of 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.

They are still working on bringing the remains of those killed down the valley from the crash site, which lies at an altitude of about 4,000 metres.