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Search Continues for Iranian Plane Wreckage

The search for the wreckage of a plane that crashed in Iran, killing all 65 people on board, remains “ongoing” a day after the incident , state TV reported Monday.

Relatives of Iranian passengers, onboard the Aseman Airlines flight EP3704, react as they gather in front of a mosque near Tehran's Mehrabad airport on Feb. 18, 2018. (Credit: Atta Kenare/AFP/Getty Images)

Relatives of Iranian passengers, onboard the Aseman Airlines flight EP3704, react as they gather in front of a mosque near Tehran’s Mehrabad airport on Feb. 18, 2018. (Credit: Atta Kenare/AFP/Getty Images)

State media retracted earlier reports on Monday claiming the crash site of the Iranian Aseman aircraft had been located.

According to state-run IRNA, a Red Crescent official was quoted as saying there was “no reliable news” that the crashed aircraft had been located.

Bad weather had thwarted a recovery mission on Sunday, when a rescue helicopter was forced to turn back.

It was not immediately clear if search and rescue teams were able to reach the crash site on Monday.

The Aseman Airlines plane was flying from Tehran to the southwestern city of Yasuj when it disappeared 50 minutes into the flight.

The flight, which departed at 7:55 a.m. local time (11.25 p.m. ET Saturday), crashed in Kohangan village, 120 kilometers (74 miles) from Semirom town, authorities told Iran’s Fars News Agency .

Earlier reports said 66 people had died in the crash, but one would-be passenger did not board the flight, Aseman Airlines confirmed Sunday.

Twenty search and rescue teams and a drone were deployed in the aftermath of the crash.

ATR aircraft

On Sunday, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani expressed their condolences to the victims and their families, ordering officials to spare no efforts in their rescue operation.

The ATR aircraft, a twin-engine turboprop typically used for short-distance regional flights, hit the Dena Mountains.

Aseman’s public relations chief, Mohammad Tabatabaie, told Iran’s semi-official news agency ISNA that until the wreckage was recovered it was not possible to confirm all deaths.

“Given the special circumstances of the region, we still have no access to the spot of the crash and therefore we cannot accurately and definitely confirm the death of all passengers of this plane,” he said.

Those aboard included 59 passengers, two flight attendants, two pilots and two members of security forces.

Aseman Airlines posted an image of the plane involved in the crash on its Instagram account.

Pilot Hojatollah Fooled successfully landed a similar plane after an engine problem in 2013, the airline said in an Instagram post.

It described Fooled as “very experienced.”

“On a previous flight from Yasuj to Tehran in 2013 he had an issue where the second engine of the ATR72 went out,” said the post. “But he manged to land the plane safely at Yasuj airport.”

Several flights from Tehran were disrupted Sunday due to bad weather, according to IRNA.

And at Abadan International Airport in southwestern Iran, two domestic flights were canceled due to pollution, which reduced visibility range to two meters, IRNA added.