Plane flying from UAE to Turkey crashes in Iran, killing 11

In this May 20, 2016 photo, a Bombardier CL604 aircraft descends to land in Istanbul. The Turkish private jet flying from the United Arab Emirates to Istanbul carrying a group of young women crashed Sunday night, March 11, 2018 in a mountainous region of Iran, killing all 11 people on board, authorities said. (AP Photo/Yigit Cicekci)
Updated 12 March 2018
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Plane flying from UAE to Turkey crashes in Iran, killing 11

TEHRAN: A Turkish private jet flying from the United Arab Emirates to Istanbul carrying a group of young women crashed Sunday night in a mountainous region of Iran during a heavy rain, killing all 11 people on board, authorities said. The doomed aircraft days earlier carried a bachelorette party bound for Dubai.
Iranian state television quoted Mojtaba Khaledi, the spokesman of the country’s emergency management organization, as saying the plane hit a mountain near Shahr-e Kord and burst into flames. Shahr-e Kord is some 370 kilometers (230 miles) south of the capital, Tehran.
Khaledi later told a website associated with state TV that local villagers had reached the site in the Zagros Mountains and found only badly burned bodies and no survivors. He said DNA tests would be needed to identify the dead.
Villagers near the crash earlier said they saw flames coming from the plane’s engine before the crash, according to a report by Iran’s state-run judiciary news agency Mizan.
The plane took off around 4:41 p.m. (1311 GMT) Sunday and reached a cruising altitude of just over 35,000 feet, according to FlightRadar24, a flight-tracking website. At around 6:01 p.m. (1431 GMT), something appears to have gone wrong with the flight as it rapidly gained altitude and then dropped drastically within minutes, data published by the website showed.
 

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The General Civil Aviation Authority in the UAE said the flight took off from Sharjah International Airport on its way to Istanbul. A private company that handles public relations for the Sharjah airfield, the home of low-cost airline Air Arabia, declined to immediately comment. Sharjah is a neighboring emirate of Dubai.
 

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Turkey’s private Dogan News Agency identified the plane as a Bombardier CL604, tail number TC-TRB. Turkey’s Transport Ministry said the plane belongs to a company named Basaran Holding.
Basaran Investment Holding is active in the food, finance, energy, construction, tourism and travel industries, according to the company’s website.
Mina Basaran, the 28-year-old daughter of Basaran’s chairman who is part of the company’s board of managers and is in line to run the business, posted photographs on Instagram of what appeared to be her bachelorette party in Dubai.
Among those photographs was an image of the plane posted three days ago. In it, Basaran poses on the tarmac carrying flowers, wearing a denim jacket reading “Mrs. Bride” and the hashtag “#bettertogether.” In another picture, she holds heart-shaped balloons inside the plane.
 

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One day ago, Basaran posted a picture with seven smiling friends from a Dubai resort. The last videos posted to her account showed her and friends enjoying a concert by the British pop star Rita Ora at a popular Dubai nightclub. There was no further activity on her account after that.
It wasn’t clear who was on the plane at the time of the crash, though Iranian emergency management officials described all the passengers as being young women, according to IRNA.
Sunday’s crash comes after an Iranian ATR-72, a twin-engine turboprop used for short-distance regional flying, crashed in southern Iran, killing all 65 people on board in February.


Iraq lays cornerstone to rebuild iconic Mosul mosque

Updated 16 December 2018
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Iraq lays cornerstone to rebuild iconic Mosul mosque

  • More than a year after Daesh lost control of Mosul, the iconic mosque still lies in ruins
  • In June 2014, it became infamous as the site where Baghdadi declared Daeh’s “caliphate” just days after the extremists seized Mosul in a lightning assault

MOSUL: Iraqis on Sunday laid the cornerstone in rebuilding Mosul’s Al-Nuri mosque and leaning minaret, national emblems destroyed last year in the ferocious battle against the Daesh group.
The famed 12th century mosque and minaret, dubbed Al-Hadba or “the hunchback,” hosted Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi’s only public appearance as Daesh chief, when he declared a self-styled “caliphate” after the extremists swept into Mosul in 2014.
The structures were ravaged three years later in the final, most brutal stages of the months-long fight to rid Iraq’s second city of Daesh.
On Sunday, dozens of government officials, religious figures, United Nations representatives and European ambassadors gathered in the large square in front of the battered mosque to see the foundation laid.
Abu Bakr Kenaan, the head of Sunni Muslim endowments in Nineveh province, set down the stone in a simple ceremony.
It bore a black Arabic inscription: “This cornerstone for the rebuilding and restoration of the Al-Hadba minaret and the Great Al-Nuri Mosque was laid on December 16, 2018.”
More than a year after Daesh lost control of Mosul, the iconic mosque still lies in ruins. The stone gate leading up to its courtyard and the greenish dome now covered in graffiti are virtually the only parts still erect.
All that is left of the minaret is part of its rectangular base, the rest of it sheared off by fighting.
Kenaan told AFP remnants of the minaret would be preserved, while other parts of the mosque would be built afresh, along with a museum about its history and adjacent homes.
The five-year project will be financed by a $50.4 million (44.6 million euro) donation from the United Arab Emirates.
The first year will focus on documenting and clearing the site, while the next four years will see the physical restoration, the UN’s heritage agency UNESCO has said.
The mosque’s destruction “was a moment of horror and despair,” said UNESCO Iraq representative Louise Haxthausen.
“Today as we lay the foundation stone of the Nuri mosque, we are starting a journey of physical reconstruction,” she told those gathered.
The mosque takes its name from Nureddin Al-Zinki, who ordered it built in 1172 after unifying Syria and parts of northern Iraq.
Its cylindrical minaret, which featured several levels of ornamental brickwork capped by a small white dome, started listing centuries ago.
It is featured on Iraq’s 10,000-dinar banknote and gave its name to countless restaurants, companies and even sports clubs.
But in June 2014, it became infamous as the site where Baghdadi declared Daeh’s “caliphate” just days after the extremists seized Mosul in a lightning assault.
That capture prompted three years of ferocious fighting to wrest back Mosul and other Iraqi cities overrun by Daesh.
In June 2017, as Iraqi forces closed in on a shrinking Daesh-held pocket in Mosul’s Old City, the extremists blew up both the Al-Nuri mosque and its leaning minaret.
Daesh itself blamed a US-led strike for the destruction.
When the rest of the Old City fell back under state control, Iraqi forces celebrated at the mosque, holding Daesh’s black flag upside down and tauntingly calling out, “Where is Baghdadi?“