An Ilyushin Il-76 military aircraft crashes near Kerman, Iran.
The 2003 Iran Ilyushin Il-76 crash occurred on 19 February 2003, when an Ilyushin Il-76 crashed in mountainous terrain near Kerman in Iran. The Aerospace Force of the Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution aircraft, registration 15-2280, was flying from Zahedan to Kerman when it crashed 35 kilometres southeast of Kerman. The aircraft was carrying members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard, a special force that is independent from the Iranian Army, on an unknown mission.
Strong winds were reported in the region of the crash when the aircraft disappeared from the radar screens; approximately at the same time, villagers in the area described hearing a loud explosion. There were no survivors among the 275 occupants on board the aircraft
The IL-76 was flying a route from Zahedan Airport to Kerman Airport carrying members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps on an unspecified mission. The four-engine Russian transport aircraft with a crew of 18, lost contact with air traffic control at 5:30 pm after flying into poor weather conditions.
The aircraft crashed into the Sirch mountains, southeast of Kerman, about 500 miles southeast of Tehran, killing all aboard. Investigators believe it was a controlled flight into terrain, citing the deteriorating weather conditions and high winds.
Immediately after the crash, members of the Revolutionary Guards and Red Crescent were sent to the accident scene. Two helicopters attempting to reach the scene turned back due to bad weather. A cordon of the area was completed as well, limiting access to journalists and the public.
President Mohammad Khatami’s cabinet sent a message of condolence to families of the victims about the tragic event in which a group of IRGC brothers—Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps—were killed. The Iranian government also blamed U.S. sanctions against Iran for playing a part in the crash since the restrictions make it more difficult for Iran to maintain its aircraft.
There was speculation that the accident was the result of a mid-air collision due to the high number of fatalities. A terrorist organization called the Abu-Bakr Brigades also claimed responsibility for the crash.