(BBC) - All 117 people on board an Iranian passenger plane died when it crashed into snow-covered mountains in the west of the country, government officials have confirmed.
The plane was totally destroyed and scattered in small pieces across the mountain
Four government officials were among those who perished on the Tupolev 154, which disappeared from radar screens while flying from Tehran to Khorramabad on Tuesday morning, an official told the Reuters news agency.
The aircraft was operated by Iran Air Tours, a subsidiary of the state carrier Iran Air.
Local witnesses said the plane crashed in flames into the Sefid Kooh (White Mountain), with a big explosion, as it was landing in the city about 375 km south-west of the capital.
Four of the victims are reported to be Spaniards, who the Spanish foreign ministry says had travelled to Iran on a sales mission for an electrical goods company.
A local official told the French news agency AFP that the wheels and other pieces of the plane had been located near the village of Sarab Doreh, west of Khorramabad. He said mountaineers would be needed to recover the bodies from the area.
The Civil Aviation Organization of Iran said over 100 rescue workers were at the scene.
"But given that the mountain is covered in snow it will be very difficult to reach the aircraft quickly," the organization said.
The cause of the crash is not known, but President Mohammad Khatami has ordered an immediate inquiry.
It is the latest in a series of incidents involving ageing Russian-built aircraft leased by companies in Iran.
Members of parliament have already called for the resignation or impeachment of the transport minister, whose predecessor died in another air crash in May last year.
Under US sanctions, Iran has had difficulty obtaining spare parts for its ageing fleet of Boeing aircraft purchased before the 1979 Islamic revolution and relies increasingly on planes leased from the former Soviet Union.
Iran has said the US stance on spare parts endangers the lives of innocent passengers.