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Iran Plane Crash Kills 29

A plane carrying Iran's transport minister has crashed in northern Iran, killing all 29 people on board, the Interior Ministry said Thursday.

The plane was carrying 19 passengers and 10 crew, including Transport Minister Rahman Dadman and six members of parliament, Tehran airport officials said.

After disappearing early Thursday, the plane was found several hours later in the mountains between Gorgan and Shahroud, about 206 miles northeast of Tehran, an Interior Ministry official told The Associated Press.

Dadman and his delegation were on their way to Gorgan, 194 miles northeast of Tehran, to inaugurate the city's airport, the local governor said on state television.

Provincial officials "were waiting at the Gorgan airport to greet them on their arrival when we lost contact with the plane," Governor Ali Asghar Ahmadi said.

He said the airport control tower at Sari, 155 miles northeast of Tehran, lost contact with the pilot after a final communication at 7:38 a.m. local time.

"The pilot said that because of bad weather, they were heading back to Tehran," Ahmadi said.

It was raining heavily at the time, Iranian meteorologists said.

Authorities searched for the plane with helicopters, aircraft and boats, as Sari and Gorgan lie near the Caspian Sea.

Dadman was appointed to the Cabinet in January.

The plane, a Russian-built YAK-40, was operated by Faraz Qeshm Airlines, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported.

By Afshin Valinejad
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