Their grief tinged with anger, Iranians poured into the streets
of Tehran Thursday to mourn the victims of a military plane crash
that left 108 people dead. The victims were mostly journalists en
route to military exercises, but included crew and people on the
Tearful family members clung to each other and Iranian
photographers and cameramen wept as caskets guarded by military
police passed by in a procession of more than 10,000 people.
A poem from 8-year-old Sepah was read to remember her father,
Sepahdar Sajedi, a reporter for Iran's national news agency, IRNA.
But even as the dead were officially declared "martyrs" after the
crash Tuesday - in which an aging Iranian Air Force plane crashed
into an apartment block immediately after takeoff - the media have
raised questions about whether the plane should ever have taken off.
The plane, which was carrying journalists to cover military
maneuvers in the southern port city of Chabahar, was delayed more
than six hours. Hamshahri newspaper reported Wednesday that one of
its photographers had called his wife during the delay, and told her
there were technical problems, so the pilot had refused to fly.
Officials deny that, but the circumstances of takeoff remain
unclear, and have sparked a surge of speculation about carelessness
"Things happen to people who live in a third world country like
Iran," says an IRNA journalist who asked not to be named, walking
beside the caskets of the five IRNA staff who died.
"Some say it was a plot, a conspiracy, and they blame the
government. They knew [the plane] was out of order. They warned
them: 'Do not take off,'" says the journalist. "The government is
not favoring journalists, because they say they are interfering in
their affairs - especially the new government of [President]
Such criticism has prompted action by politicians as Iranians ask
why the military continues to use planes such as this Lockheed C-
130, bought from the US before the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
"I hope the authorities take maximum precision in security [of
flights] and supervision, and parliament will be extremely sensitive
on cases like this," parliament speaker Gholamali Hadadadel told the
mourners. Each family is to receive $33,000 in government
compensation, according to reports.
"Parliament will pursue this ... and I pray that God will keep
these dear lives in his hands, and give patience to [family members]
with burned hearts."
During the speeches, a mourner shouted out that the incident
should be investigated. …