Searchers find wreckage

Iranian search and rescue teams on Monday reached the site of a plane crash that authorities say killed all 65 people on board, Iran's Press TV reported.

The Aseman Airlines ATR-72, a twin-engine turboprop used for short-distance regional flying, went down on Sunday in foggy weather, crashing into Mount Dena in a remote area of southern Iran. The airliner said all on board Flight EP3704 were killed, including six crew members.

The crash of the aircraft, brought back into service only months ago after being grounded for seven years, was yet another fatal aviation disaster for Iran, which for years was barred from buying necessary airplane parts due to Western sanctions over its contested nuclear program.

Press TV said search teams reached the crash site before dawn on Monday. The station said the weather had improved, though it was still windy. The semi-official Tasnim news agency cited the military as saying Russia had helped locate the crash site. Russia and Iran are close military allies.

The TV broadcast footage of a helicopter joining the search and showed ambulances and rescue vehicles preparing to reach the site on Mount Dena. The site is reportedly at a height of 3,500 metres.

Other Iranian news outlets and officials did not confirm that the crash site had been reached. State radio said five helicopters and five drones are active in the search operation. Iran's semi-official ISNA news agency said that more than 150 climbers have joined the operation.

Transport Minister Abbas Akhoundi left Tehran on Monday to visit the site of the crash, state TV reported. Footage posted on independent news websites showed him in the cockpit of a plane taking part in the search. State TV quoted him as saying the cause of the crash was still "not clear."

Reza Jafarzadeh, a spokesman for Iran's Civil Aviation Organization, said a seven-member delegation from France is to arrive in Tehran on Monday to investigate the cause of the crash, the official IRNA news agency reported. Jafarzadeh said the delegation includes four officials from French-Italian aircraft manufacturer ATR.

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