Journalists Worldwide Mourn Loss of 68 Lives in “Worst Ever” Disaster For Media

Journalists around the world were in mourning today over the death in Iran of 68 journalists and media staff who were among the 94 passengers and crew killed in a military flight that crashed soon after takeoff in Tehran yesterday.

“Today is a sad and desperate day for journalism,” said Aidan White, General Secretary of the International Federation of Journalists in a message of sympathy to the Iranian Association of Journalists. “This tragedy is hard for all of us to bear. In this dark moment for journalism around the world we extend our deepest sympathies to all of you.”

The IFJ is pledging support from its International Safety Fund to assist the families of the media victims in what it says is the worst-ever single loss of life in any accident involving journalists and media staff.

“Every day journalists and media staff leave the office to carry out their duties, and every day they find themselves taking risks that cannot be avoided,” said White. “But we expect answers to the questions now being raised about the safety of the airplane in which they were travelling.”

The media victims were mostly Iranian radio and television journalists heading to cover military manoeuvers in southern Iran. The crash occurred when their plane, a C-130 four-engine turboprop, crashed in the Azari suburb of Tehran, also killing 21 people on the ground. The air force plane developed engine trouble soon after take off.

Among the media victims were 30 state broadcasting network employees. The IFJ is supporting calls for an immediate investigation into the cause of the crash, the latest in a string of fatal air accidents in Iran in recent years.

The IFJ says that Iran has an ageing, poorly-maintained fleet of aircraft due in part to US sanctions imposed in the 1990s which prevent it from buying US-built planes or spare parts. “If this plane was not airworthy, it should not have been in use,” said White.

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The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 110 countries