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32 Die as Iranian Plane Strays, Crashes in Karabakh War Zone

March 19, 1994|From Reuters

YEREVAN, Armenia — An Iranian plane crashed in the war-torn Caucasus enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh after having strayed off course, killing all 32 people on board, an Armenian official said Friday.

Some military experts said the C-130 Hercules, taking families of Iranian Embassy staff home from Moscow on Thursday for Muslim New Year celebrations, could have been shot down.

Armenia's first deputy foreign minister, Zhirair Liparityan, told a news conference that the plane should have flown over Russia, Georgia and Armenia before reaching Iran.

For reasons that remained unclear, it veered about 65 miles east of this corridor as it left Georgia and did not enter Armenian airspace as scheduled at 10:08 p.m., he said.

Instead, it flew into the war zone around Nagorno-Karabakh, an Armenian-populated area in Azerbaijan whose independence-minded inhabitants have invaded and conquered a large chunk of Azerbaijani territory.

Liparityan said it was not clear what had happened between then and 10:30 p.m., when the plane crashed just a few miles north of the Nagorno-Karabakh capital, Stepanakert.

The Iranian Embassy in Moscow said the aircraft was carrying 19 passengers, including nine children, and a crew of 13.

Russia's Itar-Tass news agency quoted military experts as saying the plane "could well have been shot down by a mobile antiaircraft missile system."

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