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An American naval warship patrolling in the Persian Gulf has shot down an Iranian passenger jet after apparently mistaking it for an F-14 fighter. All those on board the airliner - almost 300 people - are believed dead.
The plane, an Airbus A300, was making a routine flight from Bandar Abbas, in Iran, to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.
The plane blew up six miles from the Vincennes, the wreckage falling in Iranian territorial waters. Iranian ships and helicopters have been searching for survivors but none have so far been found. Iranian television broadcast scenes of bodies floating amid scattered debris.
Iran has reacted with outrage, accusing the United States of a "barbaric massacre" and vowed to "avenge the blood of our martyrs".
President Reagan said the Vincennes had taken "a proper defensive action" and called the incident an "understandable accident", although he said he regretted the loss of life.
Most of those on board the Iranian Airbus were Iranians on their way to Mecca. The victims also included 66 children and 38 foreign nationals. An official inquiry carried out by the US attributed the mistake to human error.
However, the Iranian government has always disputed the American version of events.
It took four years for the US administration to admit officially that the USS Vincennes was in Iranian waters when the skirmish took place with the Iranian gunboats.
Subsequent investigations have accused the US military of waging a covert war against Iran in support of Iraq.
The US government has never admitted responsibility or apologised for the tragedy.