Iran has retrieved some data, including a portion of cockpit conversations, from the Ukrainian plane accidentally downed by Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) forces in January, killing all 176 people on board.
Analysis of the black boxes showed it was hit by two missiles, 25 seconds apart, and that passengers were still alive for some time after the first impact, an Iranian official said on Sunday.
The announcement by the head of Iran’s Civil Aviation Organisation marks the first official report on the contents of the cockpit voice and data recordings, which were sent to France for analysis in July.
Tehran has said it accidentally shot down the Ukraine airliner at a time of extreme tensions with the United States.
In remarks quoted by state media, Captain Touraj Dehghani Zangeneh said the black boxes have only 19 seconds of conversation following the first explosion.
“Nineteen seconds after the first missile hit the plane, the voices of pilots inside the cockpit indicated the passengers were alive … 25 seconds later the second missile hit the plane,” he said, adding that the first missile explosion sent shrapnel into the plane, likely disrupting the plane’s recorders.
Demand for thorough probe
Iran has been in talks with Ukraine, Canada and other nations that had citizens aboard the plane, and who have demanded a thorough investigation into the incident.
The IRGC shot down the Ukraine International Airlines flight with a ground-to-air missile on January 8, just after the plane took off from Tehran.
The shooting happened on the same night Iran launched a ballistic missile attack targeting US soldiers in Iraq, its response to the American drone attack that killed Iranian General Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad on January 3.
At the time, Iranian troops were bracing for a US counterstrike.
Days later, Tehran acknowledged the incident as a “disastrous mistake” by forces on high alert during the confrontation with the US.
Iranian and Ukrainian officials have held talks on compensation to be paid to the families of the victims. Another round of talks is set for October.