TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Investigators on Monday found the “black box” from a Turkish private jet that crashed in an Iranian mountain range on its way from the United Arab Emirates to Istanbul, killing all 11 people on board that included a Turkish bride-to-be and her bachelorette party.
Authorities recovered all the dead from the crash site in the Zagros Mountains outside of the city of Shahr-e Kord, some 370 kilometers (230 miles) south of Iran’s capital, Tehran, according to a report by the state-run IRNA news agency.
Officials have so far identified eight bodies, including that of Mina Basaran, the 28-year-old daughter of the chairman of Turkey’s Basaran Investment Holding, the semi-official Mehr news agency reported Monday.
Heavy rains and wind in the mountain range since the crash Sunday made it impossible for helicopters to land in the area, though officials hoped to bring the bodies down from the mountain later in the day, IRNA said.
Families of the victims arrived Monday in Shahr-e Kord, accompanied by Turkish diplomats, IRNA reported.
The flight took off Sunday from Sharjah International Airport in the UAE, home to the low-cost carrier Air Arabia. A little over an hour into the flight, the aircraft rapidly gained altitude and then dropped drastically within minutes, according to FlightRadar24, a flight-tracking website.
It remains unclear what caused the crash, though a witness told state television the Bombardier CL604 was on fire before it hit the mountain.
Finding the aircraft’s “black box” will help investigators trying to piece together what happened. That equipment, typically painted in a bright color to allow searchers to easily find it, records cockpit conversations and radio transmissions, as well as other data from a flight.
Sharjah civil aviation authorities said in a statement late Sunday night that the plane’s eight passengers were six Turks and two Spaniards. Three others were the flight crew.
“The plane did not apply for maintenance procedures while on the ground of the airport,” their statement said.
Turkey’s Hurriyet newspaper and other media reports said the plane’s three crew members — two pilots and one flight attendant — were all women as well.
Basaran and her friends had celebrated her bachelorette party in nearby Dubai. Turkey’s Transport Ministry said the aircraft belonged to Basaran Investment Holding, which The Associated Press has not been able to reach since the crash.
Basaran recently posted photographs on the photo-sharing app Instagram of what appeared to be her bachelorette party, which included eight women. Iranian authorities previously said the flight’s passengers were all young women.
Among those photographs was an image of the plane posted three days ago. In it, Basaran posed 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.
On Saturday, Basaran posted a picture with seven smiling friends from a Dubai resort. The last videos posted to her account showed her enjoying a concert by the British pop star Rita Ora at a popular Dubai nightclub.
Other victims included 28-year-old architect Zeynep Coskun, who also recently was engaged and would have married in the summer, Turkey’s private Dogan news agency said.
Melike Kuvvet, the plane’s co-pilot, was a former Turkish air force captain who was dismissed from the military but was hoping to be re-instated in May, Dogan reported.
Sunday’s crash came less than a month after an Iranian ATR-72, a twin-engine turboprop used for short regional flights, crashed in southern Iran, killing all 65 people onboard.
Associated Press writers Jon Gambrell in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and Suzan Fraser in Ankara, Turkey, contributed to this report.