A Caspian Airlines Tu-154M jet with 168 people on board crashed on Wednesday, shortly after take-off from Tehran International Airport in Iran.

The plane, bound for Armenian capital Yerevan, crashed near the village of Jannat Abad, outside the city of Qazvin, about 75 miles north-west of Tehran.

The 153 passengers and 15 crew were mainly from Iran’s large ethnic Armenian community, in addition to six Armenian and two Georgian citizens.

Eight members of Iran’s national youth judo team including two trainers and a delegation chief, who were supposed to attend competitions in Hungary, were also on board.

The Iranian-Russian joint venture Caspian Airlines fleet is made up of Tupolevs and was founded in 1993.

Due to the Soviet collapse, government funding for aircraft spare parts manufacturers has been reduced resulting in several airlines falling behind in maintenance programmes for their aging planes.