Passengers of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Die in Plane Crash

The 284 members of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard and 18 crew members on the plane were confirmed dead -- making the crash Iran's worst ever and one of the highest death tolls in aviation history.

Officials said the poor weather conditions made it dangerous for the workers to continue searching the rocky terrain where the Russian-made Ilyushin aircraft went down Wednesday evening.

The crash was the latest in a string of plane accidents the Iranian government has blamed on U.S. sanctions, arguing that they have prevented the country from repairing and replacing its aging fleet. Trade between Iran and the United States has been frozen under sanctions Washington imposed after the 1979 takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran.

(AP) Search teams pressed through fog, rain and strong wind Thursday to recover some mutilated bodies from the mountainous site of a military plane crash that killed all 302 Iranian soldiers aboard, and grieving relatives tried to approach the heavily guarded scene.

In the country's worst plane crash, the Russian-made military transport Ilyushin-76 operated by Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards crashed Wednesday evening en route from Zahedan, on the Pakistan border, to Kerman, about 500 miles southeast of Tehran.

An Ilyushin-76 transport aircraft carrying 284 members of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) and 18 crewmembers crashed at approximately 2:30 p.m. GMT on 19 February in the Shahdad area of Kerman Province, according to IRNA and Iranian broadcast media. Air-traffic controllers at Kerman airport said that the pilot had reported bad weather and strong winds before contact was lost, according to IRNA. The crash victims served in the IRGC's Imam Ali Battalion in Sistan va Baluchistan Province, IRNA reported.

Late on 21 February, IRGC air force commander Brigadier General Kazemi revised the casualty figures. He said, according to state radio: "Two hundred sixty-four victims were personnel of the 41st Sarallah Brigade in Kerman. The remaining 11 people were the aircrew." A 23 February IRNA report described the recovery of 210 bodies.