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IranAir Plane Crashes, 71 Out of 106 Killed

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TEHRAN - An IranAir passenger plane crashed Sunday in the middle of a snowstorm in the country's northwest, killing 71 of the 106 people on board, while the rest survived with light injuries, Iranian media reported.

The Boeing-727 crashed and broke into several pieces shortly before it was to land in the city of Orumiyeh, 460 miles northwest of the capital, Tehran, said Abbas Mosayebi, spokesman of the Iranian civil aviation organization, state TV reported.

The pilots of the Boeing-727, operated by Iran's national airline, attempted the emergency landing in Orumiyeh after reporting a technical failure to the control tower, the semiofficial Mehr news agency reported, quoting a deputy provincial governor, Ebrahim Fatholahi.

The nature of the technical failure was unclear. A spokesman for the Iranian civil aviation organization, Abbas Mosayebi, said only that the plane "faced an incident," state TV reported.

The network also said the aircraft disappeared from radar and went down in farmland after making a second attempt to land. There was no word on what might have caused the crash.

The head of Iranian Red Crescent told CBS News' Sayed Bathaei that the the survivors were found amid the wreckage and transported to a nearby hospital.

Iran has a history of frequent air accidents blamed on its aging aircraft and poor maintenance. In July 2009 a Russian-made jetliner crashed in northwest Iran shortly after taking off from the capital, killing all 168 on board.

In February 2003, a Russian-made Ilyushin 76 carrying members of the Revolutionary Guard crashed in the mountains of southeastern Iran, killing 302 people aboard.