63 Canadians among Iran plane crash victims
Sixty-three Canadians are among 176 victims of the crash Wednesday morning in Iran of a Boeing 737-800 operated by the carrier Ukraine International Airlines.
Vadym Prystaiko, Ukrainian Minister for Foreign Affairs, added that among the others killed were 82 Iranians, 11 Ukrainians, ten Swedes, four Afghans, three Germans and three British. No one survived the crash.
An Ontario university said two of its students were among the passengers who died in the crash. The University of Guelph identified the victims as Ghanimat Azdahri, doctoral student in the department of geography, environment and geomatics, and Milad Ghasemi Ariani, doctoral student in marketing and consumer studies. The university says they were on their way back to Canada after visiting Iran.
Payman Paseyan, a member of the Iranian-Canadian community in Edmonton, said that many residents of this city were on the plane and that he knew several of the passengers personally. Paseyan, a former president of the Edmonton Iranian Heritage Society, added that the city’s Iranian community was already very worried about the repercussions of the high tensions between Iran and the United States, especially about their relatives who still live in Iran.
Edmonton mayor Don Iveson also said several city residents died in the crash.
The Boeing 737-800 departed Tehran Imam Khomeini International Airport almost an hour late to travel to Kiev, the Ukrainian capital. It would have stopped transmitting any flight data immediately after takeoff. According to Iranian and Ukrainian authorities, a mechanical problem could be behind the plane’s crash in Shahedshahr, in an agricultural area outside Tehran. The Boeing 737-800 had only flown for three and a half years.
Yevhen Dykhne, President of Ukraine International Airlines, said shortly after the crash that the plane was one of the best in the carrier’s fleet and that the crew was very reliable. Ukraine International Airlines subsequently suspended all flights to Tehran.
Ukrainian Boeing Crashes Near Tehran
Black boxes found
The Iranian authorities also claimed to have found among the debris of the plane the two black boxes containing in particular the recording of the conversations of the cockpit crew.
The crash came just hours after Iran’s ballistic missile attack on two military bases in Iraq, where American soldiers and other allied states were held. These shots are a response to the assassination by the United States of General Qassem Soleimani, head of the Revolutionary Guards.
The President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, extended his condolences to the families of the victims of the crash. He also ordered a general inspection of all Ukrainian civil aircraft.
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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued a statement mid-morning in which he said he was “shocked and saddened” by the accident and offers his condolences and those of his family to the loved ones of the victims.
“Our government will continue to work closely with its international partners to ensure that a thorough investigation into this crash is carried out and that Canadians have their questions answered,” he said.
“Today, I want to reassure all Canadians that our highest priority is your safety. We are also wholeheartedly with the other countries who mourn the loss of their citizens. ”
The Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs, François-Philippe Champagne, for his part reacted on Twitter by assuring that he was wholeheartedly with the relatives of the victims, adding that he had been in contact with the government of Ukraine.
Trudeau also said that Canada will work with its international partners to conduct a full investigation into the tragedy.
He added that Minister Champagne, and Minister of Transport, Marc Garneau, are in communication with their international counterparts.
Minister Champagne has previously held talks with the government of Ukraine, and Minister Garneau has assured that Canada will provide technical assistance for the upcoming investigation.
Mr. Trudeau wants to get to the bottom of this affair so that “Canadians will find the answers to their questions”.