13 days after the tragedy, which left all the 176 people onboard dead, Shargh newspaper has reported the eyewitnesses’ accounts, shedding new light on the moment of the incident.
Mehdi is a young man whose barber’s shop is right in front of the plane crash site and the hole created by the crash is less than 20 metres away from his shop.
“Early in the morning I was taking a stroll with my dogs when I noticed the plane. I started running after it to figure out what it was at all, as it was catching fire. At first I didn’t realize it was a plane.
I guess the pilot intentionally led the flight down towards the park, because if the plane had hit the ground before that, lots of houses and people would have been destroyed. But I saw it made a jolt, soared a little bit, and passed the square, while flames were falling off the plane. The plane was exactly coming from Shahriar towards our town, and it crashed into the park. What I saw was that the plane was crashing one-winged. One of the wings had come off before. Later, I heard from a friend of mine that the wing had fallen off near Parand Town. And when it hit the ground, first I heard a crash and then felt a tremor. Thereupon, there was a big explosion and it was luminous and red everywhere.”
Asked whether he heard a missile hitting the plane or anything like a shot, he said, “The only sound was something like a “whooof”, like a gust of wind.
But there were some white-coloured stuff beside the plane, which I don’t know what they were.”
Here, Shakour, a teenage boy whose house is the nearest to the plane crash site, chimed in: “One of the neighbours found a burnt bag with US dollars in it. One of the children found a little box containing gold. Children turned them all over to the officials.”
He and his friends say that from that day up until now the images of the bodies do not go away from their minds and that they do not sleep without nightmares.
“The plane passed right over our house and crashed into the park. I was awakened by the crash, the building’s shaking and the windows’ cracks. And a few moments later there was a great explosion. It was really frightening. At first, I said wow, the war has broken out and Saba Battery [Company] was just hit, as it is nearby.”
“It was dark; but suddenly it was light everywhere, not like daylight though; it was luminous with red, red flames. It was really strange. The plane crashed at 06:20 and we all were there at 6:25 having pajamas on! The entire neighbourhood was on the scene. We thought we might save some people’s lives. But everyone was dead. There were dead bodies, and blood all over the ground, and the smell of smoke and dead bodies burning in the air.
As it lightened, we came to realize what had happened. We realized that we had been walking over the bloods and people’s entrails.”
“What that situation and the dead bodies did to me was that I have a nightmare every night. I cannot sleep in my own room for the fear of terrible nightmares. I go to the hall so that I might go to sleep. The scenes come before my eyes, as soon as I close my eyes.”
A lady whose shop is close to the plane crash site tells Shargh about the morning: “We ran out into the alley. The plane crash site was visible from inside the alley. My son was standing next to me.
All of a sudden some tiny, tiny stuff resembling sand was falling from the skies. I don’t know what they were. I just put my hands over my son’s head so that they would not fall onto his head. Then I ran towards the park, as everybody was going in that direction. From the very beginning, I noticed a few pieces of human body and blood. I feared and returned. And from that day up until now I have not gone that way. My daughter has not eaten meat for several days. She tells me not to put meat in our food, as she feels sick and cannot eat.”
A young woman from the town says: “Into our and other neighbours’ yards and onto the rooftops had fallen pieces of cloth and other stuff. The day after that day, my mother washed the yard, the walls and the rooftop. Many did so. It felt bad that those pieces of cloth and other stuff probably belonged to the poor passengers, and that they had been blown into pieces and scattered everywhere.”
Another witness says: “I was asleep when all of a sudden my room’s flowerpots fell off the windowsill. First I didn’t get it. I thought it was certainly an earthquake. But then, following the neighbours’ outcries I too moved off to the park into which the plane had crashed. Somewhere at the beginning of the park, I noticed a piece of head, ear and hairs of people. It was so visible. And there was no blood around it. It was really scary. At that point my legs faltered, and I returned. I have not gone to sleep for several days. I feel really bad, and I don’t know what to do. I think many feel bad nowadays.”