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UPDATE: At least 14 people from B.C. among victims in fatal Iran plane crash

Ukraine International Airlines plane was en route to Kyiv when it went down in a field, killing all aboard

At least 14 people from B.C., including international students and a family of three, have been confirmed among the 176 passengers killed in a plane crash in Iran’s capital on Wednesday morning.

Dozens of Canadians — some believed to be university students — were among the people killed when Ukrainian International Airlines Flight PS752 crashed minutes after takeoff from Tehran’s main airport, according to Iranian and Ukrainian authorities. No one on the plane survived.

Those with ties to B.C. who have been confirmed aboard the plane when it crashed include:

  • Delaram Dadashnejad, an international student studying at Langara College
  • Mother and daughter Ayeshe Pourghaderi and Fatemah Pasavand, from North Vancouver
  • Siblings Mohammadhossein Asadi Lari and Zeynab Asadi Lari, both who graduated from University of British Columbia
  • Port Coquitlam family Ardalan Ebnoddin Hamidi, Niloofar Razzaghi, and son Kamyar Ebnoddin Hamidi
  • Couple Hossein (Daniel) Saket and Fatemeh (Faye) Kazerani, of North Vancouver
  • Naser Pourshabanoshibi and Firouzeh Madani, from North Vancouver
  • Roja Omidbakhsh, a student at University of Victoria
  • Mehran Abtahi, a post-doctoral research fellow at UBC

Port Coquitlam family ‘most worthy’ of respect, says association head

The Civic Association of Iranian Canadians in Vancouver has confirmed that Ardalan Evnoddin-Hamidi, his wife Niloofar Razzaghi and teenage son, Hamyar Ebnoddin Hamidi, from the Coquitlam area were aboard the plane when it crashed, coming home from a two-week holiday in the country.

“He was one of the best and most worthy people, citizens and friends that I’ve known for years,” the association’s president Kei Esmaeilpour said in a statement. “They were a respected, active … and proud family for the Iranian society.”

Ebnoddin-Hamidi was a building engineer in Metro Vancouver. Razzaghi was working to become a school teacher and was employed by the Surrey school district.

Langara College student

A list of victims from the airline named Delaram Dadashnejad, a 26-year-old Langara College student, as one of the dead.

President Dr. Lane Trotter offered the college’s “deepest condolences” to Dadashnejad’s friends and family.

“We are heartbroken over the fatal tragedy that took place; our thoughts and prayers are with those in mourning from this incident,” Trotter said.

He said Langara would provide counselling and support for students, faculty and staff.

North Vancouver’s Iranian community rocked by deaths

North Vancouver RCMP said some of the victims “may have been” from the city, although they did not disclose any identities.

Arash Azrahimi, owner of Rosewood Photography, confirmed to Black Press Media that four people he knew through his business were also killed, including couple Mohammad (Daniel) Saket and Fatemah (Faye) Kazerani, as well as Ayeshe Pourghaderi and her daughter Fatemah Pasavand who ran a bakery with her husband, Amir Pasavand.

“The family supplied bread to my store,” said Reza Varasteh, owner of Vanak Market and Deli, which is across the street from Amir Bakery.

The mother and daughter went to Iran about a month ago on vacation, he said, adding that he has known the family for about five years.

He described the family as hardworking and Pourghaderi as pleasant.

“She was always laughing, really kind.”

Varasteh said Amir Pasavand left for Tehran on Wednesday to be with his family.

Fatemah Pasavand was a student at Carson Graham Secondary School in North Vancouver and was going to turn 18 this month, he said.

“The dad was wishing he was in the airplane instead of them,” he said. “He had a hard time realizing he lost his family … He had prepared a special meal that his daughter had asked for when she came back.”

Meanwhile, Farzad Taheri said he saw his cousins, who go by the English names Daniel and Faye, just before Christmas.

Taheri described Daniel as an “extremely kind, generous, humble genius.. and a big loss to humanity.” His wife Faye was “the most positive, also extremely kind and generous woman,” Taheri said.

“We were the only family they had in Canada,” he added.

Naser Pourshabanoshibi and Firouzeh Madani were identified by friends and family as two of the victims.

UBC alumni and siblings killed in crash

The Canadian Commission for UNESCO confirmed that two Iranian-Canadians were killed in the crash, including one of their youth advisors.

Mohammad Asadi-Lari, and his sister Zeynab, were killed in the Iran plane crash. Both were graduates of the University of B.C.

The UNESCO commission called Mohammad an “incredible human being,” and said he “peace, inclusive STEM education, equitable and just global health, meaningful youth engagement and social entrepreneurship and innovation.”

Mohammad was born in Iran but grew up in the U.K. and travelled to more than 20 countries before setting in Canada six years ago, when he was in Grade 12. He graduated with honours from the Cellular, Anatomical and Physiological Sciences program at the University of B.C.

According to UBC, Zeynab enrolled at the university in 2016 in the BSc program, with a biology major.

University president Santa J. Ono said he was “profoundly saddened” by the siblings’ deaths and that UBC would be offering supports to its students.

The university has also confirmed the death of Mehran Abtahi, a post-doctoral research fellow in the university’s civil engineering department.

Student from University of Victoria confirmed on passenger manifest

A first-year university student from the University of Victoria was among the dead.

Roja Omidbakhsh’s name was on the passenger manifest released by Ukraine International Airlines and is identified in social media posts as a student at UVic, according to a statement on the university’s website.

Saul Klien, professor and dean of the uVic Gustavson School of Business, confirmed she was a student in the bachelor of commerce program. “Our hearts and prayers go out to her family and friends in this tragic loss,” he told Black Press Media in an email.

READ MORE: Ukrainian airlines crash near Tehran kills 63 Canadians; 176 dead

Dozens of Canadians — some believed to be university students — were among the 176 people killed when Ukrainian International Airlines Flight PS752 crashed minutes after takeoff from Tehran’s main airport, Iranian and Ukrainian authorities said on Wednesday.

The Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737-800 was en route to Kyiv when it went down in a field, killing all aboard. Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko said the plane was carrying 63 Canadians, 82 Iranians, 11 Ukrainian passengers and crew, 10 Swedes, four Afghans, three Germans and three Britons. Direct flights between Iran and Canada have not flown since 2012, and there are no diplomatic relations between the two countries. The route from Tehran-Kiev-Toronto was a popular and inexpensive one.

The crash comes just days after Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani was killed by the U.S. near the Baghdad airport in Iraq and tensions are high in the region. The Iranian Mehr News Agency quoted Iranian Armed Forces Brigadier Gen. Abolfazl Shekarchi denying rumours the plane went down as a result of a missile strike. Video online purports to show the plan becoming a ball of fire in the sky before careening to crash into the ground not long after takeoff.

The news agency also cited Iran’s Civil Aviation Authority, Ali Abedzadeh, as saying the country would not hand over the black box found in the wreckage to either Boeing or the U.S. government.

READ MORE: Iranians mourn military general as region braces for revenge

READ MORE: Conservatives urge Iran to grant access to Iran plane crash as Trudeau pledges support

It’s one of the worst losses of life for Canadians in an aviation disaster. In 1985 a bomb exploded and killed 329 people aboard an Air India flight. Air India Flight 182 from Montreal to New Delhi exploded over the Atlantic Ocean near Great Britain on June 23, 1985. Most of the victims were Canadian.

Ukrainian authorities initially said it appeared mechanical failure was to blame, but later walked that back, saying nothing had been ruled out.

Canadian Foreign Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said Wednesday he had been in touch with the government of Ukraine.

Hamid Gharajeh, of the Iran Democratic Association of Canada, said he’s spoken to families and friends of some of the victims. Many aboard were students on their way back to Canada after the holiday break, he said.

“Our hearts go out for all these young people who are just trying to get back to their lives,” Gharajeh said in Toronto. “It’s unfortunate.”

READ MORE: Trudeau pledges Canadian support to investigation of Iran plane crash

Canada is urging Canadians to avoid non-essential travel to Iran due to the volatile security situation, but the travel advisory makes no mention of the plane crash.

Global Affairs Canada and the B.C. premier’s office have not responded to request for comment.

More to come.

- with files from The Canadian Press


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