176 people were killed in a plane crash in Iran in the early hours of the morning.

With Iran's escalating tensions with the US dominating world headlines, rumours and conspiracies about the cause of the crash are circulating on social media.

But what do we actually know?

A Ukraine International Airlines jet crashed into the ground shortly after take off from Tehran's Imam Khomeini International Airport on its way to Kiev, the capital of Ukraine. Of the 167 passengers and nine crew members onboard the Boeing 737, no-one is thought to have survived.

Why did it happen?

A spokesperson for Iran's Road and Transportation Ministry told AP News that the crash was caused by a fire in one of the plane's engines. The pilot lost control of the plane soon after take off and it crashed down, setting fire to farmland in Parand, a suburb of the Iranian capital.

The exact cause of the crash has not yet been fully substantiated. Ukraine's Embassy in Iran removed a statement from their website that ruled out terrorism, saying it is too early to draw conclusions about what happened.

Who was affected?

According to Iran's Foreign Minister Vadim Prystaiko, among the dead are 82 Iranians and three British nationals. 63 Canadians, 11 Ukrainians, 10 Swedes, four Afghans and three Germans were also killed.

Early reports put the number of deaths at 180, but Ukrainian Prime Minister Oleksiy Honcharuk has confirmed the number as 176.

What was the response?

Iranian and Ukrainian investigators are working to determine the exact cause of the crash. Investigation leader Hassan has said that the plane's pilot couldn't communicate with air traffic control in the last moments of the flight, but the reason for this is as of yet unknown.

Ukrainian International Airlines have suspended all flights to Tehran indefinitely.

Could this be related to the missile attack?

The plane crashed at 06:12 local time, or 02:42 GMT, shortly after the missile attack on US air bases in Iraq launched by Iran's Revolutionary Guard. The missiles were launched in retaliation to the assassination of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani by the US.

Because of the close proximity of events, people are saying that the two must be related and that the plane crash can't have been an accident. There is currently no credible evidence to suggest that it wasn't.

Why are some people blaming Boeing?

Boeing came under intense scrutiny last year because of possible faults with their 737 aircraft, which culminated in the resignation of their CEO, Dennis Muilenberg, in December. Boeing plane crashes killed 157 people in Kenya in March 2018, and 189 people in Jakarta, Indonesia in October of the same year.

The President of Ukraine International Airlines, Yehven Dykhne, told the press that that the crashed plane was "one of the best planes we had, with an amazing, reliable crew".

Boeing have also acknowledged the crash.

A widely shared video on social media claims to show the final minutes before the crash, taken by an eye witness.

Responses to the crash are now expected from world leaders.

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky sent his "sincere condolences to family and friends" of those killed.

Iran's parliamentary speaker Dmytro Razumkov said on Facebook: ​

Our task is to establish the cause of the crash of the Boeing and provide all necessary help to the families of the victims.

Tributes have also been paid by the EU.

A full explanation for the cause of the crash and the names of the victims are yet to be established to the press.

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