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In brief | Nation & World, 08-11-14

August 11, 2014 - 12:05am

State TV in Iran reports passenger plane crashes in capital, Tehran, killing all 48 aboard

TEHRAN, Iran — An Iranian regional passenger plane crashed Sunday while taking off from the capital, Tehran, killing 48 people onboard, state media reported.

The aircraft, an Iran-140 typically used for short domestic flights, crashed near Tehran’s Mehrabad airport, Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency reported. The plane went down in a residential area after its engine went out, the agency reported.

Iranian state television said 48 people were killed in the crash: 40 passengers and eight crew members. The plane, operated by Sepahan Air, was heading to Tabas, a town in eastern Iran. It took off at 9:20 a.m. local time and crashed shortly afterward.

Members of the Revolutionary Guard worked to secure the crash site and security and rescue personnel combed the wreckage as onlookers gathered shortly after the plane went down. The plane’s mangled but largely intact tail section was torn from the fuselage and came to rest on a nearby road.

The Iran-140 is a twin-engine turboprop plane based on Ukrainian technology that is assembled under license in Iran. It is a version of the Antonov An-140 regional plane and can carry up to 52 passengers.

Turks vote in 1st direct presidential election with Prime Minister Erdogan as front-runner

ISTANBUL — Turks voted Sunday in their first direct presidential election, a watershed event in the country’s 91-year history that could cement Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s position as Turkey’s all-powerful leader.

Erdogan, who has dominated Turkish politics for more than a decade, is the strong front-runner to replace incumbent Abdullah Gul for a five-year term.

Now in his third term as prime minister at the head of the Islamic-rooted Justice and Development Party, or AKP, Erdogan has been a polarizing figure. He is fervently supported by many as a man of the people who has led Turkey through a period of economic prosperity. Yet critics view him as an increasingly autocratic leader bent on concentrating power and imposing his religious and conservative views on a country founded on strong secular traditions.

After a bitter and divisive pre-election campaign, Erdogan sounded more conciliatory in his final campaign speech Saturday, promising to “leave the old Turkey behind.”

“This country of 77 million is our country, there is no discrimination,” he said. “We own this country all together.”

Rising migrant tide off Tunisia threatens to overwhelm fishermen’s best efforts to help

ZARZIS, Tunisia — The fishermen of this small North African port are used to catching sea bass and sea bream in their nets, but lately they’ve been hauling in something else: shipwrecked migrants fleeing war-ravaged Libya on flimsy boats.

Chamseddine Bourassine, a Tunisian fisherman in his 50s, and his colleagues are on the front lines of a growing humanitarian disaster as waves of migrants take to the sea bound for Italy. They do their best to save who they can, but Bourassine says they’re quickly being overcome by this year’s flood of African and Middle Eastern migrants seeking a new life in Europe.

The fishermen, who are risking both their lives and livelihoods to rescue the migrants, often cite a saying by the Prophet Muhammad: “Who saves a life, saves all of humanity.”

“Today I have the means to bring back 107 people, but I’ll lose 3,000 Tunisian dinars ($1,750),” Bourassine says. “Tomorrow I might not be able to. I have people who work with me. If I interrupt work once, twice, three times, it becomes a heavy burden on my shoulders.”

He estimates he has saved more than 1,000 migrants on four separate occasions while out in his fishing boat, twice since the Libyan uprising in 2011.

By wire sources