Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752
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UR-PSR, the aircraft involved in the incident, in October 2019
8 January 2020
Shot down by two IRGC Tor M-1 missiles
Khalajabad, Shahriar County, Tehran Province, Iran
35°33′40″N 51°06′14″ECoordinates: 35°33′40″N 51°06′14″E
Ukraine International Airlines
IATA flight No.
ICAO flight No.
UKRAINE INTERNATIONAL 752
Imam Khomeini International Airport, Tehran
Boryspil International Airport, Kiev
Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 (PS752) was a scheduled international passenger flight from Tehran to Kiev operated by Ukraine International Airlines (UIA). On 8 January 2020, the Boeing 737-800 operating the route was shot down shortly after takeoff from Tehran Imam Khomeini International Airport by the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp. All 176 passengers and crew died.
The shoot-down occurred during the 2019–2020 Persian Gulf crisis, five days after U.S. President Donald Trump launched a drone strike that killed Iranian General Qasem Soleimani in retaliation for the 2019–20 attack on the United States embassy in Baghdad by Kata'ib Hezbollah, and hours after Iran launched missiles on U.S. bases in Iraq.
The Iranian government initially denied responsibility for the airplane's destruction, but investigation by Western intelligence agencies and the general public revealed that the aircraft was shot down by a surface-to-air missile launched by Iran. Mass protests calling for the removal of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei broke out in Iran on 13 January in response to the shootdown and government denial, which ultimately resulted in the Iranian government admitting that it shot down the airliner.
The missile strike occurred four hours after Iran launched retaliatory missile strikes on U.S. positions in Iraq for the killing of Major General Qasem Soleimani. Iran was on the highest state of defensive alert and, according to Commander of the Aerospace Force of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Amir Ali Hajizadeh, was "totally prepared for a full-fledged war".
The aircraft was a Boeing 737-8KV, serial number 38124, registration UR-PSR. It was three and a half years old at the time of it being shot down, having first flown on 21 June 2016. It was delivered to the airline on 19 July 2016 and was the first 737 Next Generation aircraft purchased by the airline. The airline defended the airplane's maintenance record, saying it had been inspected just two days before the crash.
Flight and crash
Approximate location of the crash site
The flight was operated by Ukraine International Airlines, the flag carrier and the largest airline of Ukraine, on a scheduled flight from the Iranian capital Tehran's Imam Khomeini International Airport to Boryspil International Airport in the Ukrainian capital Kiev. Emergency officials confirmed that the aircraft was carrying 176 people, including nine crew members and fifteen children.
Flight 752 was scheduled to take off at 05:15 local time (UTC+3:30), but was delayed. It departed Stand 116 and took off from Runway 29R at 06:12:08 local time and was expected to land in Kiev at 08:00 local time (UTC+2:00). The final ADS-B data received was at 06:14:57, less than three minutes after departure.
Between 06:14:17 and 06:14:45 the airplane turned from the take-off heading of 289° to heading 313°, following its regular route.
According to the data, the last recorded altitude was at 2,416 metres (7,925 ft) above mean sea level with a ground speed of 275 knots (509 km/h; 316 mph). The airport is 1,007 metres (3,305 ft) above mean sea level, but the ground around Parand and the crash site is several hundred feet higher. The flight was climbing at just under 3000 ft/min when the flight data record abruptly ended over the open ground near the northern end of Enqelab Eslami Boulevard in Parand. Analysis of several videos by The New York Times shows that the aircraft was hit almost immediately by the first of two short-range missiles (which knocked out its transponder) launched thirty seconds apart by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, and with the aircraft having maintained its track, by the second missile some 23 seconds later, after which it veers right and can be seen aflame before disappearing from view. Ukrainian investigators believe the pilots were killed instantly by shrapnel from the missile which exploded near the cockpit.
The precise track of the aircraft is unclear from that point until about a minute before it crashed, when several videos recorded its last seconds. The aircraft crashed on a park and fields on the edge of the village of Khalajabad 15 kilometres (9.3 mi; 8.1 nmi) north-west of the airport, and about 10 miles (16 km; 8.7 nmi) ENE of the last missile strike about seven minutes after takeoff, but did not cause any casualties on the ground.
Shortly after the crash, emergency responders arrived with 22 ambulances, four bus ambulances, and a helicopter, but intense fires prevented a rescue attempt. The wreckage was strewn over a wide area, with no survivors found at the crash site. The aircraft was completely destroyed on impact.
Passengers and crew
People on board, based on Ukrainian official list[a]NationNumber
Recovery operations, victims of Flight 752
There were 167 passengers and nine crew members on the flight. According to Iranian officials, 146 passengers used Iranian passports to leave Iran, ten used Afghan passports, five used Canadian ones, four Swedish ones, and two used Ukrainian passports. There is some disagreement from other sources with this accounting of nationalities, possibly due to some passengers being nationals of more than a single country.
According to Ukrainian foreign minister Vadym Prystaiko and a flight manifest released by UIA, out of the 167 passengers' citizenship, 82 were confirmed to be Iranian, 63 were Canadian, three were British, four were Afghan, 10 were Swedish, and three were German. Eleven Ukrainians were also onboard, nine of them being the crew. The German Foreign Ministry denied any Germans were aboard; the three people in question were Afghan nationals who lived in Germany as asylum seekers. According to Iranian nationality law, the Iranian government considers dual citizens as Iranian citizens only.
Of the 167 passengers, 138 were travelling to Canada via Ukraine. Many of the Iranian Canadians were affiliated with Canadian universities, as students or academics who had travelled to Iran during Christmas break. The crash was the largest loss of Canadian lives in aviation since the 1985 bombing of Air India Flight 182. On January 15, 2020, Canadian Transport Minister Marc Garneau said 57 Canadians died in the crash.
In addition to six flight attendants, the crew consisted of Captain Volodymyr Gaponenko (11,600 hours on Boeing 737 aircraft, including 5,500 hours as captain), instructor pilot Oleksiy Naumkin (12,000 hours on Boeing 737, including 6,600 as captain), and first officer Serhiy Khomenko (7,600 hours on Boeing 737).
The Civil Aviation Organization of Iran (CAOI) reported shortly after the incident that a team of investigators had been sent to the crash site. On the same day, the Ukrainian government said it would send experts to Tehran to assist with the investigation. President Volodymyr Zelensky instructed the Ukrainian General Prosecutor to open a criminal investigation into the crash. The Ukrainian government sent 53 representatives to Iran to assist with the investigation, among them government officials, investigators, and representatives of the UIA.
A Ukrainian Air Force Ilyushin Il-76 prepares to depart for Iran from the Boryspil International Airport with specialists from the National Bureau of Investigation of Civil Aviation and Incidents with the Civil Aviation Service, State Aviation Service, Ukraine International Airlines and from the General Inspectorate of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine.
Under standard International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) rules, according to Annex 13 of the Chicago Convention, the United States National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) would participate in the investigation, as they represented the state of the manufacturer of the aircraft. France's Bureau d'Enquêtes et d'Analyses pour la Sécurité de l'Aviation Civile (BEA) would participate as representatives of the state of manufacture of the aircraft's engines (a U.S.–France joint venture) and Ukraine's Ministry of Infrastructure would participate as representatives of the state in which the aircraft was registered. Given the 2019–20 Persian Gulf crisis, it is not known how these organizations would be involved, although it was reported that Iran had said American, French and Ukrainian authorities would be involved.
The head of the commission for accidents in the CAOI said they received no emergency message from the aircraft before the crash. It was reported that the aircraft's black boxes (the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) and flight data recorder (FDR)) had been recovered, but the CAOI said it was not clear to which country the recorders would be sent so the data could be analyzed. The association said it would not hand over the black boxes to Boeing or to U.S. authorities. On 9 January, the black boxes were reported, by Iranian investigators, to have been damaged and that some parts of their memory may have been lost. Mary Schiavo, a former U.S. Department of Transportation inspector general, said no automated distress messages had been sent from the aircraft or by its crew.
On 9 January, the Swedish Accident Investigation Authority and Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) were officially invited by the investigation team to participate in the probe on the crash. The NTSB, Ukraine, and Boeing were also invited to participate in the investigation. Due to American economic sanctions placed on Iran, U.S. investigators would need a special licence from the Treasury and the State Departments to travel there.
On 9 January, media reports showed bulldozers being used to clear the crash site. Some aircraft investigation experts expressed concerns about disturbing and damaging the crash site before a thorough investigation can be conducted. Iran denied bulldozing the evidence. On 10 January, the Iranian government granted Ukrainian investigators permission to investigate the flight recorders and Ukrainian investigators visited the crash site, with plans to download the recorders in Tehran. On 14 January, the head of the TSB, Kathy Fox, said there were signs that Iran would allow the TSB to participate in the downloading and analysis of data from the airplane's flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder. On 23 January, the TSB announced that they had been invited by Iran to help with the flight recorders.
On 2 February, Ukrainian TV channel aired a leaked recording of the information exchange between the Iranian pilot of an Aseman Airlines flight and an Iranian air-traffic controller. The pilot allegedly stated in Persian that he saw a flash similar to missile fire in the sky, and then an explosion. Following the leak, the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the new evidence proved Iran was well-aware from the very first moments that the Ukraine passenger airplane was brought down by a missile. The following day Iran ceased co-operation with Ukraine in its investigation into the disaster due to this leaked recording. Iran resumed co-operation on 15 February.
Flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder
On 20 January, Iran asked for assistance from France and the United States to recover the data from the flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder. On 5 February, Canada urged Iran to send the recorders to France. Iran denied the request.
On 12 March, Iran agreed to hand over the recorders to Ukraine. However, the COVID-19 pandemic delayed this action. During this time, impatience began to mount from Ukraine, Canada, and ICAO.
On 11 June, Iran announced that the flight recorders would be sent directly to the Bureau d'Enquêtes et d'Analyses pour la Sécurité de l'Aviation Civile (BEA) in France. Canadian officials urged Iran to complete this action "as soon as possible", citing the previous delays in handing over the recorders. This statement was further reinforced 11 days later, when Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif commented on this intention during a phone call with Canadian foreign minister François-Philippe Champagne.
On 20 July, the examination of the recorders started in Paris; Champagne rejected the finding by the CAOI that "human error" caused the launch of the missiles which destroyed the aircraft: "It cannot just be the result of a human error. There is no circumstance under (which) a civilian aircraft can be downed just by the result of human error in this day and age... All the facts and circumstances point to more than just a human error, so certainly we will continue to pursue vigorously the investigation."
Cause of the crash
Wreckage of Flight 752, with part of an engine in the foreground, showing nozzle guide vanes
Wreckage of Flight 752
On 8 January, Iran's Road and Transportation Ministry released a statement that the aircraft burst into flames after a fire started in one of its engines, causing the pilot to lose control and crash into the ground. The airline opined that pilot error was impossible to be cited as the cause of the crash as the pilots had exclusively been trained for the Tehran flights for years, noting that Tehran Airport was "not a simple airport".
Iranian and Ukrainian government sources initially blamed mechanical issues aboard the aircraft for its crash. The Ukrainian government later retracted its statement and said anything was possible, refusing to rule out that the aircraft was hit by a missile. President Zelensky said there should not be any speculation about the cause of the crash.
On 9 January, U.S. intelligence and defence officials said they believed the aircraft had been shot down by an Iranian Tor missile (NATO reporting name SA-15 "Gauntlet"), based on evidence from reconnaissance satellite imagery and radar data. Ukrainian authorities said a shootdown was one of the "main working theories", while Iranian authorities denied this, stating that allegations of a missile hit were "psychological warfare". British defence officials agreed with the American assessment of a shootdown. Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau said evidence from multiple sources, including Canadian intelligence, suggest the aircraft was shot down by an Iranian missile.
After three days of describing it as "an American lie", "a wrongful scenario by CIA and the Pentagon", and "an attempt to prevent Boeing stock from a free fall", on 11 January, the Armed Forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran admitted they had shot down the airplane, having erroneously identified it as a hostile target.
The flight had been delayed by more than an hour because the captain had decided to offload some luggage because the aircraft was over its certified takeoff weight.
According to an early IRGC statement, when the airplane seemed to head toward a "sensitive military centre" of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, controllers mistook it for a "hostile target" and shot it down. Iran's Civil Aviation Organization disputed this timeline, arguing that the airplane was on the correct course all the time and there was no proven flight deviation. The CAOI's viewpoint was also supported by a Radio Canada International article that used public ADS-B flight tracking data.
Iranian Brigadier general Amir Ali Hajizadeh of the IRGC Aerospace Defense said a missile operator in Bidganeh had acted independently, mistook the airplane for a U.S. cruise missile and shot it down. Hajizadeh also said the airplane was on-track and "made no mistake".
Western experts had previously noted that Flight 752 was flying near several sensitive Iranian ballistic missile facilities, including the Shahid Modarres missile base at Bidganeh near Malard, which the Iranians could have believed would be targets of retaliation for their attack a few hours earlier.
On 11 July 2020, the CAOI reported that Iran now blamed the missile strike that downed PS752 on "bad communication" and "poor alignment". According to the Iranians, the missile battery "had been relocated and was not properly reoriented" and the guilty parties did not include the higher-ranking chain of command officers.
Analyses based on social media
On 9 January, the Instagram account Rich Kids of Tehran published a video captioned: "The actual footage from the moment the #Ukrainian flight was shot down by a Russian-made Tor-M1 missile just moments after takeoff from #Tehran's Airport ". The video was published at the same time the Iranian authorities were claiming technical problems for the crash. Qassem Biniaz, a spokesman for Iran's Road and Transportation Ministry, said the pilot "lost control of the plane" after a fire broke out in one of its engines, denying the Ukrainian plane was hit by a missile.
On 9 January, a video was posted on a public Telegram channel showing what was, according to Bellingcat, apparently a mid-air explosion. The New York Times contacted the person who filmed the video and confirmed its authenticity. An investigation team from Bellingcat carried out an analysis of this video and geolocated it to a residential area in Parand, a suburb west of the airport. Bellingcat also examined photos from an unknown source and said these images of a missile nose cone had yet to be verified, despite claims from several sources. The Tor missile's warhead is located in its midsection, meaning its nose may not be destroyed in an explosion. Similar photographs of fragments have been taken in eastern Ukraine, but none have been found to be the same as those attributed to the recent incident.
USA Today reported that the firm IHS Markit reviewed photographs showing the guidance section of a missile and "assesses them to be credible". Aviation monitoring group Opsgroup said: "We would recommend the starting assumption to be that this was a shootdown event, similar to MH17—until there is clear evidence to the contrary" asserting that photographs "show obvious projectile holes in the fuselage and a wing section".
On 9 January, President Trump said the airplane "was flying in a pretty rough neighbourhood, and somebody could have made a mistake." He said the U.S. had no involvement in the incident and that he did not believe a mechanical issue had anything to do with the crash. U.S. intelligence sources informed U.S. media outlets they were "confident that Iran painted the Ukrainian airliner with radar and fired two surface to air missiles that brought down the aircraft."
Also on 9 January, at a news conference in Ottawa, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the airliner was likely brought down by an Iranian missile, citing intelligence from Canadian and other sources, and said the incident "may well have been unintentional".
On 10 January, during an interview with Sky News, Iran's ambassador to the United Kingdom, Hamid Baeidinejad, rejected video footage obtained by American media that showed bulldozers clearing the crash site as "absurd". Baeidinejad further denied that an Iranian missile had brought down the airplane, and said that "[p]lane accidents are a very technical issue, I cannot judge, you cannot judge, reporters on the ground cannot judge. Nobody can judge. A foreign minister or a prime minister cannot judge on this issue."
On 11 January, Iran admitted it had shot down the Ukrainian jet by "accident", the result of human error. General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard's aerospace division, said his unit accepts "full responsibility" for the shootdown. In an address broadcast by state television, he said that when he learned about the downing of the airplane, "I wished I was dead." Hajizadeh said that, with his forces on high alert, an officer mistook it for a hostile missile and made a "bad decision".
On 14 January, the Rich Kids of Tehran Instagram account published a new video, showing two missiles hitting the aircraft. The security camera footage, verified by The New York Times, shows two missiles, fired 30 seconds apart. On 20 January, the Civil Aviation Organization of Iran also admitted that the country's paramilitary Revolutionary Guard had fired two Russian-made Tor-M1 missiles at the aircraft.
On 10 August, IRGC officer Gholamreza Soleimani told Iranian state TV that Iran will not compensate Ukraine International Airlines for the shootdown because the "plane is insured by European companies in Ukraine and not by Iranian companies".
Commemoration of the victims of the air crash in Iran at Kyiv Boryspil airport
Commemoration of the victims of the air crash in Iran
On 17 January, the Canadian government announced that it would provide C$25,000 to the relatives of each of the 57 Canadian citizens and permanent residents who were killed in the crash. The funds were to help cover immediate needs, like funeral and travel expenses. However, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also said that it holds Iran financially responsible.
On 19 January, the bodies of 11 Ukrainian citizens, who died in the crash, were returned to Ukraine in a solemn ceremony at the Boryspil International Airport. The coffins, which were each draped in a Ukrainian flag, were carried one by one from a Ukrainian Il-76 military plane of the 25th Transport Aviation Brigade.
President Zelensky, Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine Oleksiy Danilov, Prime Minister Oleksiy Honcharuk, Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada Dmytro Razumkov, and other officials and military servicemen participated in the commemoration.
The disaster occurred amid a heightened political crisis in the Persian Gulf, hours after the Iranian military launched 15 missiles towards U.S. military airbases in Iraq in response to the Baghdad International Airport airstrike which killed Iranian general Qasem Soleimani. In response, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), in a notice to airmen (NOTAM), banned all American civil aircraft from flying over Iran, Iraq, the Gulf of Oman and the Persian Gulf. Although the FAA's NOTAM is not binding on non-U.S. airlines, many airlines take it into consideration when making safety decisions, especially after the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in 2014. Several airlines, including Austrian Airlines, Singapore Airlines, KLM, Air France, Air India, SriLankan Airlines, Qantas and Vietnam Airlines began to reroute their flights. Other airlines, such as Lufthansa, Emirates, Flydubai, and Turkish Airlines cancelled some flights to airports in Iran and Iraq and would make further operational changes as necessary.
Ukraine International Airlines (UIA) suspended flights to Tehran indefinitely shortly after the incident, with flights after the day of the crash no longer available. The suspension also complied with a prohibition issued by State Aviation Administration of Ukraine for flights in Iran's airspace for all Ukrainian registration aircraft. Since the crash, additional airlines, Air Astana and SCAT Airlines also re-routed flights that overflew Iran. This followed a recommendation by the Kazakhstan Ministry of Industry and Infrastructure Development, issued to Kazakhstani air companies after the crash, to avoid flying over Iran airspace and/or to cancel flights to Iran. Air Canada rerouted its Toronto-Dubai flight to fly over Egypt and Saudi Arabia instead of Iraq.
Government and IRGC
Iran declared 9 January a national day of mourning both for the victims of Flight 752 and for those killed in a stampede at Qasem Soleimani's funeral.
On 11 January, the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps said they had shot down the aircraft after erroneously identifying it as a hostile target. President Rouhani called the incident an "unforgivable mistake". Foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif apologized for the disaster and added that the preliminary conclusion of the armed forces' internal investigation was "human error".
On 17 January, Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, in his first Friday sermon in eight years, defended the Revolutionary Guards' accidental killing of passengers[dubious – discuss] and praised Operation Martyr Soleimani for giving a "slap on the face" to the United States. His sermon came as public anger mounted against the government for their handling of the incident.
In April, an Iranian MP, the spokesman for the Iranian parliament's legal and judicial committee, said the Iranian military "carried out their duties well", adding that "the movement of the plane was very suspicious" and that no arrests had been made in relation to the incident.
Main article: Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 protests
A gathering at Amirkabir University of Technology. Above flowers and lit candles a notice reads "What is the cost of lying?"
On 11 January, in response to the government's admission, thousands of protesters poured into the streets of Tehran and other Iranian cities such as Isfahan, Shiraz, Hamadan and Urmia. Video clips on Twitter showed protesters in Tehran chanting "Death to the dictator", a reference to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. In Tehran, hundreds of protesters took to the streets to vent anger at officials, calling them liars for having denied the shootdown. Protests took place outside at least two universities: students and protesters gathered at Sharif University, Amirkabir University and Hafez Overpass in Tehran, initially to pay respect to the victims. Protests turned angry in the evening. President Trump tweeted support for the protests. The mourning Iranians called Qasem Soleimani a murderer and tore up pictures of him, shattering the appearance of national solidarity that had followed his death.
On 12 January, protests erupted across Iran for a second day; in Tehran and in several other cities, protesters chanted slogans against the leadership and clashed with security forces and Iran's Basiji Force firing tear gas at the protesters. The protesters chanted that they needed more than just resignations, but prosecutions of those responsible as well. Tehran residents told Reuters that police were out in force in the capital on 12 January, with dozens of protesters in Tehran chanting "They are lying that our enemy is America, our enemy is right here," and scores of demonstrators gathered in other cities also shown on social media.
On 13 January, the Los Angeles Times reported that Iranian security forces fired both live ammunition and tear gas to disperse demonstrators.
Iran's exiled Crown Prince Reza Pahlavi said the Islamic Republic Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei was responsible for the downing. Iranian reformist newspaper Etemad ran the banner headline "Apologize and resign", and commented on the "people's demand" for the removal of those responsible for the shootdown.
A Khamenei representative in the elite Revolutionary Guards, told a gathering of Khamenei’s representatives in Iranian universities that the Assembly of Experts, the clerical body that chose Khamenei, “... do not appoint the Supreme Leader, rather they discover him [...] In the Islamic system, the office and the legitimacy of the Supreme Leader comes from God, the Prophet and the Shi’ite Imams".
Amnesty International reported on 15 January that on 11 and 12 January Iranian security forces used tear gas, pointed pellets and pepper spray against peaceful demonstrators protesting the government lying about shooting down the passenger plane.
Iran's security forces were on alert not to let people turn funerals of the plane crash victims into demonstrations. Nevertheless, in some Iranian cities such as Isfahan and Sanandaj, participants in these funerals have shown their anger and shouted anti-government slogans. The supreme leader Ali Khamenei praised the country's armed forces and described the protesters as those deceived by foreign media.
On 14 January 2020, Iran's judiciary announced that several arrests had been made over the accidental shooting down of the aircraft. The spokesman, Gholamhossein Esmaili, did not name any suspect or say how many had been held. In a televised speech, President Rouhani said the judiciary would assemble a special court with a high-ranking judge and tens of experts to oversee the investigation.
On 14 January, it was announced that Iranian authorities had arrested the person who had published a video of the aircraft being shot down. An Iranian journalist based in London who initially posted the footage insisted his source was safe, and that the Iranian authorities had arrested the wrong person. According to Tasnim News Agency and the semi-official Fars News Agency, Iranian authorities are looking for the person(s) who distributed the video.
Families of the victims
Iran's Radio Farda reported that according to Zeytoun (a foreign-based Persian website) Iranian intelligence agents forced families of the victims to give interviews on state TV, declaring their support for the Iranian government or else the government would not deliver the bodies of the victims.
In February, in Toronto, a proposed class action claim was filed in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice against Iran, Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, and various branches of the Iranian military, among others. Lawyers of the families of Canadian victims are seeking compensation of at least $1.1 billion.
On 3 April 2020, the families of the victims formed an association in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, to follow the case through legal avenue. The association's spokesman, Hamed Esmaeilion, said the association's aim is, "to bring the perpetrators of the crime to justice, including those who ordered it". In July 2020, Esmaeilion was outraged that the ICAO had yet to condemn the incident, and pointed out that the ICAO needed only three months to adopt a unanimous resolution condemning in the strongest terms the destruction and alleged murders of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17.
President Zelensky expressed condolences to the relatives of the victims and cut short his diplomatic visit in Oman. He later added that several aircraft had been prepared in Kiev to travel to Tehran to transport the dead. He declared 9 January a national day of mourning, with Ukrainian flags flying at half-mast on government buildings. He also announced unscheduled inspections on every airliner in the country and asked Ukrainians to refrain from visiting Iran and Iraq for the time being. On 11 January Zelensky said, "Ukraine insists on a full admission of guilt. We expect Iran to bring those responsible to justice, return the bodies, pay compensation and issue an official apology. The investigation must be full, open and continue without delays or obstacles."
On 13 January, Ukraine's Foreign Minister, Vadym Prystaiko, said five of the countries that had citizens on board the airliner—Canada, Ukraine, Afghanistan, Sweden and an unnamed country—would meet in London on 16 January to discuss possible legal action.
Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau speaks to media
With the large loss of Canadian life, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne and Transport Minister Marc Garneau both expressed sympathy for the victims. Champagne announced that he was in touch with the Ukrainian government, and Garneau announced that Canada was offering assistance in the investigation. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau insisted on transparency and justice for the families and loved ones of the victims. On 14 January, Trudeau said tensions and escalation between Iran and the United States were responsible for the shootdown.
On March 31, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the appointment of Ralph Goodale as Special Advisor to the Government of Canada. Goodale will "examine lessons learned" from Flight 752, Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, Air India Flight 182 and other air disasters and "develop a framework to guide Canada's responses to international air disasters."
Prime Minister Boris Johnson called for the repatriation of the bodies of the dead and pledged to work with Canada and Ukraine.
Ambassador of the United Kingdom to Iran, Robert Macaire was arrested on 11 January 2020 during protests in Tehran but released shortly afterwards. The ambassador was detained on suspicion that he had joined demonstrations against the government; he denied this and clarified that he had attended an event advertised as a vigil, to pay respects to the victims, and had left five minutes after people started chanting. The British government called his arrest a "flagrant violation of international law". Macaire had been arrested 30 minutes after leaving the vigil he said he had attended, according to The Guardian. The following day Macaire was summoned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in order to explain his presence during the protest. The U.S. has urged the Iranian regime to issue the British ambassador a formal apology for disregarding his rights and to reiterate that all the rights of diplomats should be respected.
'There are no words': York Region Iranian-Canadian community mourns plane crash victims
'Right now, everyone is completely united in grief': Kaveh Sahrooz
News Jan 09, 2020 by Kim Zarzour , Sheila Wang YorkRegion.com
Iranian Plane Crash - Flag half mast
A flag at Richmond Green Secondary School in Richmond Hill flies at half mast Jan. 8 after the Ukranian International Airlines crash near Tehran, Iran. - Steve Somerville/Torstar
While all of Canada mourns the loss of 57 citizens and dozens more residents in the Ukrainian International Airlines tragedy in Iran, the Iranian-Canadian community is particularly impacted by the incident.
York Region is home to many Iranian-Canadians, with the largest number in Richmond Hill.
Majid Jowhari, MP for Richmond Hill MP, released a statement on Jan. 8 to extend his condolences to the families and friends of the passengers on the flight that crashed in Iran.
"There are no words at this time to ease the grief we all feel," said the Iranian-born Liberal MP, who was re-elected to represent Canada's most Iranian riding in 2019.
Kaveh Sahrooz, Iranian-Canadian lawyer and human rights activist, said the expat community is grief-stricken.
"All morning I’ve been reading messages on social media from people who knew someone on the flight," he said. "We are a growing community but at the end of the day, we are a relatively small community and everyone knows everyone."
He said Iranian-Canadians had been divided lately surrounding the issues of Trump and Soleimani, but that division has been pushed aside.
"Right now, everyone is completely united in grief."
Majid Zohari, a Richmond Hill Iranian-Canadian, said most people in the community have been impacted in some way.
"Iranians have large families," he said. "Everybody has relatives home in Iran."
The overwhelming feeling, he said, is one of confusion.
"Everybody’s confused about what has happened," he said. "We are all hearing different stories from different sources."
Many are wondering about the coincidental timing of ballistic missiles launched by the Iranian regime occurring at the same time as the plane crash, he said.
"This is huge. We don’t know if there is a tie between."
Reza Moridi, an Iranian-Canadian and former MPP for Richmond Hill, said the community is devastated.
"Our community has been going through so much," he said. "(Iran) was once such a wonderful country."
He referred to deaths and imprisonment under the regime and recent events with the U.S., saying the expat community worldwide worried about what would come next.
"And then we wake up this morning to another tragedy — the plane crash. It has been really tough on our community."
Former Richmond Green Secondary School teacher, Mojgan Faghani, said the news about tragedy was "devastating", adding "I hope it’s an accident".
Faghani found out that Richmond Green student Arad Zarei, 17, was a passenger on that plane through a message from a previous colleague.
A passenger jet heading to Ukraine from Iran crashed minutes after taking off in the Iranian capital of Tehran, killing 176 people on board, including 138 people who were booked on a connecting flight to Toronto, which included 63 Canadians, according to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Ukrainian officials and friends of the victims.
Ukrainian International Airlines has released a list of the passengers on board the plane, which was headed to the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv.
Several of the victims either lived in, or had close ties with, York Region.
Jowhari said his office is in touch with Global Affairs Canada and is able to provide updates and assistance to all those affected as necessary.
Those who are directly impacted are encouraged to contact the MP’s office at email@example.com or 905-707-9701, or Global Affairs Canada's 24/7 Emergency Watch and Response Centre at 1-613-996-8885 or 1-800-387-3124, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Canadian citizens in Iran requiring consular assistance should contact the Canadian Embassy in Ankara at +90 (312) 409 2700 or call Global Affairs Canada’s Emergency Watch and Response Centre at +1-613-996-8885.
by Kim Zarzour
Newlyweds, university students and families from across Canada among Iran plane crash victims
By Star Staff
Wed., Jan. 8, 2020timer62 min. read
Early Wednesday morning, a passenger jet heading to Ukraine from Iran crashed minutes after taking off in the Iranian capital of Tehran, killing 176 people on board, including 63 Canadians and several people with connections to Canada, according to Ukrainian officials and friends of the victims.
Ukrainian International Airlines has released a list of the passengers on board the plane, which was headed to the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv.
The airline said most passengers were transiting through Kyiv to other destinations. The airline offers an inexpensive connecting flight from Kyiv to Toronto’s Pearson International Airport.
In a flood of tributes posted to social media, friends of some listed passengers identified them as university students, professors and professionals returning to Canada after the winter break.
Neda Sadighi, GTA
Dr. Neda Sadighi.
A clerk at a Richmond Hill eye clinic confirmed that optometrist Dr. Neda Sadighi was on the plane after visiting Tehran for 10 days on vacation. According to the clinic’s website, Sadighi is an eye surgeon who started practising in Tehran before coming to Canada. She’s a member of the College of Optometrists of Ontario, and the Iranian Association of Ophthalmologists.
Joe Belden, who worked alongside Sadighi at Optical Eyeworks in Richmond Hill, Ont., said office staff were aware of Sadaghi’s travels to Iran and had learned of her death directly from her family members.
Belden said clinic staff were struggling to come to terms with the death of their only doctor, who he described as an amazing person.
“She was really helpful to disadvantaged people,” Belden said. “She treated everybody with respect no matter their background. She was kind all the way around.”
Suzan Golbabapour, GTA
At a Remax office in Richmond Hill, a realtor said real estate agent Suzan Golbabapour was also a passenger on the plane, after travelling to Iran last month for holidays.
University of Waterloo students Marzieh (Mari) Foroutan and Mansour Esnaashary Esfahani
University of Waterloo students Mari Foroutan and Mansour Esnaashary Esfahani.
A spokesperson with the University of Waterloo said they are aware the names of two PhD students, Marzieh (Mari) Foroutan and Mansour Esnaashary Esfahani, listed among the dead on the flight.
Foroutan was a student in the university’s geography department, while Esfahani studied civil engineering, the school said.
A friend of Foroutan’s, Jaya Sree Mugunthan, told the Star she was an Iranian international student at the school, calling her an “ambitious person.”
In her 30s, Foroutan was described by her friend Jacqueline Eenkooren as a “powerful woman who put everyone else before herself,” in a Facebook message to the Star.
Foroutan was “so sincere, gracious, and generous” and “ridiculously humble” despite her many academic achievements, Eenkooren said. She did an animated Ted Talk entitled “Could We Actually Live on Mars?” that discussed the unique features of the red planet. Her research focused on “the application of new algorithms and technologies in remote sensing to study climate change.”
She also researched “planetary extremes from hyper-arid hot deserts to freezing worlds,” according to her University of Waterloo profile on the university’s website.
“She was always looking for little opportunities to treat other people around her. She’d buy you a cookie, just because, and pretend to get angry if you tried to decline in any way,” Eenkooren said.
“Amazing how someone who is so quiet and understated could be so strong and be such a force to be reckoned with at the same time. There will never be another Marzieh.”
University of Guelph students Milad Ghasemi Ariani and Ghanimat Azhdari
Milad Ghasemi Ariani.
Ghanimat Azhdari, University of Guelph student
The University of Guelph also confirmed two of its PhD students were passengers: Ghanimat Azhdari, who was doing work in indigenous conservation in the Department of Geography, Environment and Geomatics; and Milad Ghasemi Ariani, who was pursuing a PhD in the Department of Marketing and Consumer Studies.
The university originally said Azhdari’s partner was also on the plane, but later said it could not confirm that was the case.
University of Guelph associate professor Faisal Moola confirmed in a tweet that Azhdari was one of his PhD students. “Ghanimat was on her way back to @uofg after visiting her family and traditional Indigenous territories in Iran over the December break. The students and I are in so much pain,” he wrote.
“Ghanimat was an Indigenous person who was born into the nomadic Qashqai tribe in southwestern Iran,” Moola added in a statement to the Star, adding: “The one thing that brings me a little comfort in coping with Ghanimat’s death is the knowledge that my dear student was a powerful and passionate young leader in defence of Indigenous peoples and their territories, and that her life’s work will continue.”
Ariani is being remembered as a student who would be there for his classmates when they had a problem, or needed someone to talk to.
“He was really caring because he was helping other students,” Towhid Islam, a professor and researcher with the University of Guelph’s Gordon S. Lang School of Business and Economics, told the Guelph Mercury Tribune.
“Typically doctoral students are mature — they have families, children, multiple problems, they don’t have enough money. I found him helping other people, counselling them and motivating them.”
University of Alberta professors Mojgan Daneshmand and Pedram Mousavi, with daughters Daria and Dorina
Pedram Mousavi, 47, Mojgan Daneshmand, 43, and their daughters, Daria Mousavi, 14, and Dorina Mousavi, 9, seen in this family photo posted to Pedram Mousavi's Facebook account in 2014.
Masoud Ardakani, the University of Alberta’s associate chair of electrical and computer engineering, confirmed in an email that professors Mojgan Daneshmand and Pedram Mousavi were on the flight, along with their daughters Daria and Dorina.
Nooran Ostadeian, who has known them since 2010 when she helped them find a home as a real estate agent, said the couple was among her closest friends in Edmonton.
“They were like an example of the happiest couple that I’ve ever known in my life,” Ostadeian said. “I want them to be remembered as a symbol of love, community members who did a lot of dedication and contribution to the community. Great teachers for their students.”
Friend Arezu Omaraee called the loss unbearable.
“They were more than friends, they were our family basically here,” she said at a memorial.
“They were hard working, scientists, beautiful hearts, angels really.”
Omaraee said they received a text from Pedram Mousavi from the airport and he was anxious to get out of Iran.
“He said, ‘I just want to get out of this mess,’” she recalled. “But still he was joking about it. He always had this funny, cheerful attitude about everything.”
Hossein Saghlatoon, who did his PhD and post-doctorate studies under Mousavi, said he has known the family for about six years.
“I was crying my eyes out,” he said. “It’s not just that I was working with them or that he was my boss. He was a friend. He was like a father to me.”
Saghlatoon said it took him several hours to confirm the information before he told his colleagues one by one.
“Both of them were amazing, sweet people. They were so kind, irreplaceable,” he said.
Sina Ghaemi, an engineering professor at the University of Alberta, knew Mousavi for about six years. Their offices were next door to each other.
“He was a really fun person and always laughing,” Ghaemi said. “He was a very happy person.”
Yeganeh Molazem said Pedram, Mojgan, Daria and Dorina were her family away from home.
“They treated everyone around them with love and kindness,” she said through tears at a memorial in Edmonton. “Daria and Dorina were like my little sisters — the most incredible girls I ever knew. They were so smart, hardworking, compassionate and always with a smile on their face.”
Yolazem said Daria just turned 14 and Dorina would have turned 10 in March.
“The world has lost two of the most beautiful souls,” she said.
Siavash Maghsoudlou Estarabadi, wife Azaden Kaveh and daughter Paria
McMaster University confirmed Wednesday that Siavash Maghsoudlou Estarabadi, a former post-doctoral fellow in the faculty of health sciences who left the university in 2018, was listed as a passenger.
An Iranian friend of Maghsoudlou Estarabadi’s in Hamilton, who did not want her name published for fear of retribution if she returns to Iran, said he was travelling with his wife, Azaden Kaveh, and 15- or 16-year-old daughter, Paria. They were also listed as passengers.
The family was living in Sweden, the friend said.
Dr. Sarah McDonald, a professor in McMaster’s department of obstetrics and gynecology who worked with Maghsoudlou Estarabadi in Hamilton, remembered him as “a kind and thoughtful person.” She said his research focused on the important issue of the causes of preterm birth.
Daniel and Dorsa Ghandchi
According to a 2017 McMaster newsletter, Maghsoudlou Estarabadi had joined the department of obstetrics and gynecology as a post-doctoral fellow in perinatal clinical epidemiology. He completed his PhD from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden and received his doctorate of medicine from Iran University of Medical Sciences.
Iman Ghaderpanah and Parinaz Ghaderpanah, Toronto
Iman Ghaderpanah and Parinaz Ghaderpanah.
Sam Green, the owner of a GTA real estate agency, said Toronto-based mortgage broker and realtor Iman Ghaderpanah was on the plane travelling with his wife, Parinaz Ghaderpanah, on holiday.
“They are just a young couple, and they were building a life together,” Green said. “It’s a tragic situation.”
Nima Ahmadi, the vice-president of the Tirgan Festival, said Parinaz was a member of the non-profit’s funding committee and was a “brilliant lady,” who used her background in banking to help the organization. She worked at RBC, he said.
“She was a very, very beautiful person inside and out,” he said. “I’m going to miss her.’”
Her husband was also a sponsor of the festival. He said they were both in their early to mid-30s and coming back from visiting their parents in Iran.
Parinaz was a branch manager at a Toronto RBC, the bank confirmed to employees, and her husband had also worked at the bank for a time.
In a note to bank staff, she was remembered as a strong and dedicated leader.
“She embodied the best of RBC and we were incredibly lucky to have known and worked with her for the past nine years,” the note read.
“Her presence on the ship will be sadly missed, and she will be missed dearly by her branch, the Toronto northeast market and all of the lives she touched in RBC.”
Parisa Eghbalian and her daughter Reera Esmaeilion, GTA
Hamed Esmaeilion (left) of Log Home Dental in Caledon East is mourning the loss of his wife, Parisa Eghbalian, and daughter Reera Esmaeilion.
Dr. Hamed Esmaeilion of Log Home Dental in Caledon East gave permission to confirm he is mourning the loss of his wife, Dr. Parisa Eghbalian, and daughter Reera Esmaeilion, said office manager Leanne Robertson.
Robertson said Eghbalian and the couple’s daughter were on the trip to attend his wife’s sister’s engagement party.
Esmaeilion and Eghbalian also ran Aurora E&E Dentistry in Aurora together. According to that clinic’s webpage, Eghbalian was born and raised in Iran, and graduated from Tabriz University of Medical Science in 2001. Prior to immigrating to Canada in 2010, she worked as an associate for nine years. In her spare time, she enjoyed reading and watching movies with her husband and young daughter.
At the Aurora office, assistant Manija Ghotbi told the Star that owner Eghbalian had left for vacation last month with her daughter.
We’re all devastated,” Ghotbi said.
Faezeh Falsafi and her two children, Daniel and Dorsa Ghandchi, GTA
Faezeh Falsafi, with her son Daniel Ghandchi and daughter Dorsa Ghandchi
Daniel, 9, and Dorsa, who would have been 17 this week, were travelling with their mother Faezeh, 46. Their father Alireza Ghandchi spoke to the Star from Frankfurt airport, where he’s on route to Tehran for their funerals.
Daniel was a “cute” little boy he said, and Dorsa was a “super talented” artist, who loved making YouTube videos and playing piano. A photo from her birthday last year shows her beaming next to a cake, and black and gold balloons, her little brother smiling mischievously beside her. His wife had studied mechanical engineering in Iran and was close to graduating from an immigration consultant program here in Canada. In the meantime she was working as a realtor.
“After this life is meaningless for me,” he told the Star. “I don’t know how I can continue.”
What he wants now is just to know what happened to the doomed plane.
“I’m not a political person,” he said, but “it’s our right to know.”
Falsafi had worked at Homelife Bayview Realty Inc. since 2016, said colleague Olga Moss, calling her an “amazing” and “very hard-working” person.
“She’s gone with her two kids,” Moss said. “It’s just gut wrenching.”
Ardalan Ebnoddin-Hamidi and Niloofar Razzaghi, their son Kamyar Ebnoddin-Hamidi, Metro Vancouver
Niloofar Razzaghi, her husband Ardalan Ebnoddin-Hamidi and their son Kamyar Ebnoddin-Hamidi lived in Port Coquitlam, B.C.
Ardalan Ebnoddin-Hamidi, his wife Niloofar Razzaghi, and their teenage son Kamyar Ebnoddin-Hamidi are confirmed to have been on the flight. Razzaghi’s name does not appear on the official flight manifest, but multiple sources have confirmed to the Star she was on board.
The family was from Metro Vancouver, according to the chair of the Tricity Iranian Cultural Society. Behzad Abdi said he and Ardalan had known each other since going to university in Iran and that Ardalan had come to Canada as a civil engineer specializing in tunnels to help build the SkyTrain Evergreen extension to Coquitlam.
“When he worked he was very serious,” Abdi, said of his friend. “But he was a funny guy as well.”
Abdi said Ardalan was an active volunteer and helped organize many events through the society. His wife had just finished training to become a teacher two months ago.
Jessi Eiriksson, 15, said through tears that Kamyar was one of her best friends. Both were in Grade 10 at Riverside Secondary School in Port Coquitlam, B.C.
“He was the most caring person I have ever met. He was always there for me and he would be there for anybody whenever they needed someone to talk to,” she sobbed.
“It’s the hardest thing losing him.”
He loved making music and wanted to become a producer when he was older, she said.
She said he also enjoyed playing soccer for fun and they would often kick a ball around together.
“He was shy except he’s just such a loving person that everyone loves Kamyar. He makes everyone happy just with his smile and a joke.”
The University of British Columbia said Razzaghi graduated with a bachelor of science in math in 2010 and a bachelor of education in 2018.
York University student Sadaf Hajiaghavand
York University student Sadaf Hajiaghavand.
Friends of Sadaf Hajiaghavand, 27, confirmed that she was a second-year human resources student at York University. Naz Moayed said that Hajiaghavand quickly became one of her closest friends after the women who met at York University bonded over the discovery that they both arrived in Canada mere days apart from each other in 2016.
“It’s really hard,” Moayed said. “I can’t believe that she’s not here. I just spoke with her two days ago.”
Moayed said Hajiaghavand was a Canadian permanent resident and was in Iran visiting family for 10 days.
“She was kind and into fashion,” she said. She said Hajiaghavand worked two jobs including as a beauty consultant at a Toronto cosmetic store. She also pursued modelling on the side.
Arash Pourzarabi and Pouneh Gorji, Edmonton
Newlyweds Arash Pourzarabi, left, and Pouneh Gorji.
Also on the plane were young newlyweds Arash Pourzarabi and Pouneh Gorji, of Edmonton. Payman Paseyan, a member of the Iranian-Canadian community in Edmonton, said they’d married just days before boarding the plane.
Pourzarabi was working on a graduate degree in artificial intelligence at the University of Alberta, and his supervisor, Prof. Michael Bowling, said the couple loved to spend their free time exploring new parts of Edmonton.
Bowling described Pourzarabi as “so bright.”
“Not just smart, which you have to be doing a graduate degree in artificial intelligence,” he said in an email, “but he brought a brightness to each meeting … particularly with his smile.”
Alina Tarbhai and her mother, Afifa Tarbhai, Toronto
"There are some who bring a light so great to the world that even after they have gone the light remains," wrote COPE 343 when announcing the death of Alina Tarbhai
The Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation confirmed one its members, Alina Tarbhai, was on the flight.
“All of us who work at OSSTF/FEESO’s Provincial Office in Toronto are shocked and deeply saddened by the loss of our colleague,” the federation said in a release.
“Alina was a valued employee, and part of a tightly-knit team at Provincial Office. She was respected and well-liked by all. Her passing represents a profound loss for all of us who worked with her.”
Her mother, Afifa Tarbhai, was also among the victims in the plane crash.
“On behalf of everyone at the City of Markham, we send our deepest condolences to a team member, Muhammad Tarbhai, a Markham aquatic staff member who lost his mother and his sister Alina,” Mayor Frank Scarpitti wrote on Twitter. “This unimaginable tragedy has affected us all.”
Cope Local 343 also shared their condolences in a post over Instagram.
“Our hearts, love and strength is with the family, colleagues, and friends of fellow COPE 343 Sister Alina Tarbhai and her mother Afifa Tarbhai who were victims of the plane crash in Tehran, Iran.”
Toronto Grade 10 student Maya Zibaie and her mother, Shahrzad Hashemi
Northern yearbook photo of Maya Zibaie.
Shahrzad Hashemi and her daughter, Maya Zibaie, were also on the flight. They were returning to Toronto, after a few weeks of vacation in Iran, according to Ramin Moradzadeh, a longtime family friend.
Hashemi’s husband, Mahmoud, had also travelled with them to Iran, but had to come back earlier because of a job prospect he had applied for.
“They were new to Canada,” said Moradzadeh, noting the family of three were living in the city’s west end near Eglinton and Bathurst. Mahmoud rushed back to Iran after the tragedy.
“They are so wonderful, so kind. I just lost a part of my life.”
Northern Secondary School principal Adam Marshall confirmed to the Star that Maya Zibaie was a Grade 10 student and had been at the school for two years.
“It’s pretty devastating,” he said.
In a statement sent to parents and the school community, Marshall described her as “kind, happy and well-liked by her peers.”
“She was new to Canada, enjoyed attending high school and often shared with staff how excited she was about her future and reaching her academic goals. Maya will be sorely missed.”
Alvand Sadeghi, his wife, McGill student Negar Borghei, his sister Sahand Sadeghi and niece Sophie Emami, Toronto
Negar Borghei, her husband Alvand Sadeghi
Negar Borghei was “the type of sister you could rely on,” Hamidreza Borghei, who said his sister was loved by colleagues, family and friends alike.
“Because of her, I believed that having an older sister is a blessing,” he said. “She did everything with a smile on her face. She was perfect.”
Negar, a master’s student at McGill University, was killed along with her husband, Alvand Sadeghi, a web developer working in Toronto.
Sadeghi’s sister, Sahand Sadeghi, and her daughter, Sophie Emami, a senior kindergarten student at Lillian Public School in Toronto, were also killed.
Amirhossein Maleki, a cousin of Negar’s, told the Star that she had already received a master’s in Iran, but was pursuing another in Canada. Her husband, Alvand — a skilled pianist, according to Maleki — moved here after her.
Hamidreza said Negar would take the train to Toronto every weekend to see her husband, who he said was like a “brother” to him. He believed that Alvand was “the perfect match” for his sister: they were both calm, collected, warm and hard-working.
“They were lovebirds: you never saw them fight or argue. And there was no tension, even when they were apart for work and school. If anything, they were more in love because of the distance,” Hamidreza said.
Sahand was “the most hospitable person,” Hamidreza said. And Sophie, her daughter, was “an angel.”
Hamidreza said that two days before the family was set to depart Sophie wanted to practise her English. Hamidreza helped her out.
“We made a menu with food on it. And she put ‘poutine,’ the most Canadian food ever, as her first item. Then ice cream and jelly beans and cake.”
Sophie seemed “homesick for Canada” the whole trip, Hamidreza says.
In a statement, the Toronto District School Board said Sophie was an amazing child who was dearly loved by her teachers and classmates.
“She always had a smile and hug for everyone,” a statement said.
Hamidreza said he wanted to thank “everybody in Canada” for giving his sister “freedom, peace and hospitality.”
“I’m so glad she chose Canada; it was the land that gave her freedom — and we will never forget that.”
Toronto architect Mahdieh Ghassemi, and her children, Arsan Niazi and Arnica Niazi
Toronto architect Mahdieh Ghassemi.
Mahdieh Ghassemi, a Toronto architect, her son Arsan Niazi, 11, and daughter Arnica Niazi, 8, were also on board the plane that crashed, according to Nitin Malhotra, the founder of N Architecture Inc.
Ghassemi had worked at the firm for five years according to Malhotra, who described her as a “rock star” in her field and said that she’d left “a lasting impression” due to the nature of her job.
Malhotra said that right before she flew to Iran, Ghassemi had won an urban design award for a Tim Hortons that she’d designed in Brampton.
“You really can’t get any more Canadian than that,” he said.
The Toronto District School Board confirmed Arsan was a Grade 6 student at Pleasant Public School who was enrolled in the extended French program for three years, a letter that went out to parents states. “He is a wonderful example of kindness and will be sorely missed by our students and staff,” the letter states.
Arnica Naizi was in Grade 3 at Finch Public School, where she was being remembered for her “bright smile, positive spirit and kindness to all.”
McMaster University students Iman Aghabali and Mehdi Eshaghian
Iman Aghbali and Mehdi Eshaghian
McMaster University confirmed that two PhD students in the Faculty of Engineering were believed to be on board, Iman Aghabali and Mehdi Eshaghian.
“McMaster is a tightly knit community and there will be many faculty, staff, colleagues, friends and fellow students who need our support and caring at this tragic time,” said president David Farrar in a statement.
According to McMaster’s website, Aghabali received his bachelors in electrical engineering, and joined McMaster as a PhD student to pursue his research interests under supervision of professor Ali Emadi in McMaster automotive resource centre, in 2017. His research focused on design and control of power electronics converters in hybrid electric vehicles applications.
The website says Eshaghian joined MARC in 2018 to pursue his master’s degree, and then PhD in mechanical engineering. He had previously graduated from Sharif University of Technology in Tehran.
The McMaster Iranian Student Association also paid tribute to the two.
“Mehdi and Iman were two kind souls who always celebrated Iranian traditions with our community,” the association said.
“It is devastating for the entire McMaster community to hear the painful passing of young students who left behind their families and motherland in hopes of a better future career.”
Ali Mazaheri said his best friend Eshaghian would have turned 25 in a week.
He said Eshaghian had been seeing friends and family and was on the flight because it was the cheapest route back to Canada.
Mazaheri said the two last saw each other 11 days ago and went shopping, visited a tea house and took photos.
“When we said goodbye he told me maybe I can’t see you again, so if I can’t, goodbye,” Mazaheri said.
Alireza Pey, Ottawa
Alireza Pey, known to his friends as Ali, was a loving father who cared deeply for the Iranian community in Ottawa. He leaves behind his two daughters, aged 8 and 10.
“It’s devastating and I’m in disbelief,” said Maryam Kamkar, a friend of Pey’s and Iranian Canadian family community member.
Pey organized a Facebook group to bring Iranian Canadian families together in Ottawa, “to meet and provide an opportunity for kids to play and keep the language and culture going,” Kamkar added.
Pey is also the founder and CEO of MessageHopper, a tech company in Ottawa. Back in 2017, he also published a book called “Discrimination in the Canadian Courts: The True Story of a Muslim Father Fighting for His Children” based on his experience moving to Canada from Iran as an experienced engineer in 2000 and fighting discrimination against immigrant fathers in family court.
“He was a great man who tried to bring the community together,” Kamkar says. “He provided his personal residence as a meeting place for Iranian families to come together, celebrated both Iranian and Canadian holidays with a large group of friends.”
Delaram Dadashnejad, Vancouver
A student from Tehran studying at Langara College in Vancouver was also killed, Delaram Dadashnejad, 27, was taking university transfer courses at the college.
In a statement Langara College said Dadashnejad was visiting family in Iran and on her way back to Vancouver to continue her studies.
University of Windsor research assistant Hamid Setareh Kokab and wife Samira Bashiri
Samira Bashiri, left, and Hamid Setareh Kokab.
Assistant professor at the University of Windsor Afshin Rahimi confirmed to the Star that his research assistant Hamid Setareh Kokab and his wife, Samira Bashiri, were on the plane.
University of Toronto students and siblings Zeynab Asadi Lari and Mohammed Asadi Lari
UTM student Zeynab Asadi Lari.
Mohammad Asadi Lari.
University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM) student Zeynab Asadi Lari was pursuing a science degree at UTM and was the UTM branch president of the STEM Fellowship, a Canadian non-profit that mentors young scholars in data science and scholarly writing.
STEM Fellowship co-founder Dr. Sacha Noukhovitch confirmed that Asadi Lari, and her brother, Mohammed Asadi Lari, were on the plane that crashed.
Mohammed Asadi Lari, who attends the downtown campus of University of Toronto, co-founded the STEM Fellowship.
The University of British Columbia also confirmed the deaths of the two former students and released a statement expressing their “deepest condolences” to their family and friends. The school said Zeynab had enrolled at UBC in 2016 in the Bachelor of Science program, with a biology major. Her brother graduated in 2018 with a Bachelor of Science in cellular, anatomical and physiological sciences with honours standing.
University of Toronto student Mohammad Amin Jebelli
Mohammad Amin Jebelli.
Mohammad Amin Jebelli, who was completing a Masters of Health Science in the Translational Research Program at the University of Toronto, had travelled to Tehran to be with his family over the holidays.
Joseph Ferenbok, director of the Translational Research Program, said Jebelli had graduated medical school in Iran and worked as a doctor there. After mandatory military service, he chose the program at U of T because he was looking for something “creative and entrepreneurial.”
Jebelli, 29, was an accomplished and bright student. According to his Linkedin profile he had done volunteer work in underserved areas of Iran as a family and emergency care physician, and was interested in medical imaging and cardiovascular diseases.
His “selfless” nature really stood out, Ferenbok said. He said he would always stay late after department events, washing dishes or cleaning up, even when he was commuting from Waterloo during his first semester.
“No matter how much work he had or what he was doing, he always had time to help other people,” Ferenbok said. “He’s touched a lot of lives.”
Kevin Vuong taught Jebelli in a Leadership and Project Management class.
Vuong described him as “a phenomenal scientist” with an interest in cardiovascular diseases, and who had a passion for photography.
“We lost 176 people yesterday, one of them was Amin, and the world is worst for it. May you rest in peace, my friend,” wrote Vuong, who also serves in the Royal Canadian Navy, in a tribute tweet.
Siavash Ghafouri-Azar and Sara Mamani, Montreal
Siavash Ghafouri-Azar and Sara Mamani from Montreal are shown in a handout photo from family friend Gounash Pirniya taken at their wedding in Iran about a week ago.
Two graduates from Concordia University in Montreal were also among the dead. Siavash Ghafouri-Azar and Sara Mamani both graduated from the school of engineering at the university, the school confirmed on Twitter.
Babak Ghafoori Azar confirmed his cousin, Siavash Ghafouri-Azar, 35, worked for aerospace company Pratt & Whitney, in Quebec, after completing his master’s at Concordia. Mamani’s LinkedIn page suggests she’d been employed by Bombardier since 2018.
“It’s a nightmare,” Babak Ghafoori Azar said. “Everyone back home is crying. He was extremely bright.”
After relocating here in 2014, Ghafouri-Azar would go on to meet his future wife, Mamani, at Concordia, Babak Ghafoori Azar said.
“The couple decided to go back to Iran to get married in December, and were on their way home from their festive nuptials when disaster struck,” he said. “They went to Tehran to have the traditional ceremony and celebrate with family.”
Siavash Ghafouri-Azar, a mechanical engineer by trade, sent him pictures from the ceremony and the two exchanged pleasantries about the occasion. That was the last time they communicated.
They were close growing up in Tehran, said Babak Ghafoori Azar, now a journalist in Prague for Radio Free Europe, and although he hadn’t seen his cousin in about 10 years the two stayed in touch with frequent phone calls and social media contact.
Gounash Pirniya, a close friend, said the pair had recently bought a house together.
“They were successful, kind, honest and hardworking people,” Pirniya said. “They were enjoying their life as Canadian citizens.”
Shadi Jamshidi, Toronto
Shadi Jamshidi lived in Toronto and worked at the Mississauga office of Brenntag Canada as a technical sales representative.
The entire community at Brenntag Canada is “devastated” for the loss of Jamshidi, who was the company’s technical sales representative, said HR and communications director Stefania Badea.
Jamshidi, 31, had been working with the company for over a year, and had travelled to Iran to be with her family over the holidays.
“She totally was an amazing person,” said Badea, noting Jamshidi had just been selected to participate in the company’s upcoming global program on leadership in March. “She was a great employee, outstanding, always fun to be around. She had a very positive attitude, highly intelligent. We looked at her as one of our future talents.”
Carleton University student Fareed Arasteh and alumnus Mansour Pourjam
Carleton University confirmed two of members of its community were on board the flight: Fareed Arasteh, a PhD student in biology, and biology alumnus Mansour Pourjam.
“Our thoughts are with Fareed’s and Mansour’s families, friends and colleagues at this difficult time, and with everyone who has suffered loss in this terrible tragedy,” the school said in a statement on their website.
Relatives said Arasteh was in Iran to marry his fiancée over the school holiday. Their wedding was just three days ago.
Golnaz Shaverdi, cousin of Arasteh’s wife, said the family is devastated by news of his death, especially his new bride, Maral, who remains in Iran.
“She’s devastated,” Shaverdi said. “He was such a nice guy. Everyone in the family really loved him. He was young and very kind. Everyone is, of course, devastated and they are also very worried for his wife, because she’s going through a very hard time now.”
Shaverdi spent a weekend with Arasteh before he left Canada and helped him pick out his wedding outfit.
“He was a very kind and very honest person. He was thinking about his fiancée, was glad that he was going to go and see her and that they were going to be married,” she said, breaking down into tears. “He talked about all their plans and their dreams about life.”
Bahareh Karami, York Region
York Region confirmed the death of a member of its staff, Bahareh Karami, who joined the municipality in 2018 working as a technologist in the capital planning and delivery branch within Environmental Services.
“We are so shocked and extremely saddened by this tragedy,” said York Region chairman and CEO Wayne Emmerson in a release. “Our prayers are with Bahareh’s family, friends and colleagues, and for everyone that may be impacted in any way by this horrific event.”
The release said the municipality is in the process of reaching out directly to Bahareh’s immediate family, who live in Tehran. It said she was a graduate of University of Tehran with a Bachelor of Science in chemical engineering, before receiving a master’s degree in science from North Carolina State University.
“Bahareh’s colleagues speak very highly of her,” said York Region chief administrator officer Bruce Macgregor. “She is being remembered for her love of family, a dedicated and strong work ethic, and great sense of enthusiasm.”
Karami lived in Toronto’s Riverside neighbourhood. In her spare time, she enjoyed Latin dancing, especially bachata, a popular social dance style and music genre from the Dominican Republic.
Her dance instructor Fernando Ulloa told the Star’s sister paper she was as a “hard worker with the goal to do better with every practice.”
He’ll “never forget the enormous smile on her face after all of our performances.”
Mahsa Amirliravi and husband Moh Salahi, Toronto
Mahsa Amirliravi and husband, Moh Salahi
Mazyar Amirliravi, the brother of Mahsa Amirliravi, 29, confirmed that his sister was on the flight with her husband Moh Salahi, 30.
“I’m so sad,” a sobbing Mazyar Amirliravi told the Star. Amirliravi said he found out about his sister’s death via news reports. He has since spoken to relatives in Tehran who confirmed she was killed in the crash.
Overwhelmed by grief, Mazyar Amirliravi was unable to speak, so his wife, Nafise Ghadimi, did so on his behalf. She said the couple were both engineers, who met at Ryerson University and later married in 2014. The couple were Canadian citizens, who lived in Richmond Hill and both taught engineering-related courses at Lambton College in Toronto.
“We were supposed to go pick them up today,” she said. “They were very young and successful.”
GTA secondary school student Arad Zarei
Arad Zarei, 18, was in Iran visiting his mother over the holidays in the city of Shiraz, according to a statement from his father Mehrzad Zarei, which he released through the office of Willowdale MP Ali Ehsassi.
“He was the apple of my eye and his energetic demeanour and caring personality left a lasting impression on his classmates and many friends,” the father wrote. “His life will undoubtedly leave a gaping hole in the lives of the many he touched.”
Mehrzad Zarei said his son was supposed to come back in Canada to resume his last semester at Richmond Green Secondary School.
École de Technologie Supérieure student Aida Farzaneh and her husband, alumnus Arvin Morattab, Montreal
The École de Technologie Supérieure, a public engineering school in Montreal part of the l’Université du Québec, also confirmed two deaths.
In a release, the school said Aida Farzaneh, a PhD student, who was lecturing in construction engineering, and her husband, Arvin Morattab, who got his PhD there in 2018, were killed in the crash.
“All the ETS community offers its most sincere condolences to the families and loved ones of Ms. Farzanah and Mr. Morattab, as well as to their teachers and colleagues,” the school wrote in a statement.
Razgar Rahimi, Farideh Gholami and their son Jiwan, GTA
Razgar Rahimi, who taught at University of Ontario Institute of Technology in Oshawa and Cetennial College in Toronto, with wife Farideh Gholami and their 3-year-old son Jiwan Rahimi.
Centennial College confirmed Prof. Razgar Rahimi was on the plane that crashed, together with his pregnant wife, Farideh Gholami, and their three-year-old son Jiwan.
Rahimi had started teaching in the department of engineering technology and applied science in September 2018, and was a sessional lecturer at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology in Oshawa.
“Professor Rahimi will be remembered as an engaging teacher and mentor, a friendly face who was always willing to assist students with their assignments, and as a warm human being who spoke often of his young family and his many colleagues and acquaintances both in Canada and back home in Iran,” wrote school president Craig Stephenson.
Friend Mahdiyeh Amiri told the Star that Gholami was an extremely talented and creative artist.
“She got the highest level of the Persian Calligraphy certificate when she was in high school. She got admitted to the university in 2002 for the bachelor degree in Industrial design and from the beginning she exceeded all the teacher’s expectations and graduated with distinction,” said Amiri, adding Gholami went on to work as an interior designer and jewelry designer, and designed yoga pants for ANU that were made from recycled water bottles.
She was dreaming to have her own jewelry design company one day, Amiri said.
“They were a happy family and they were bringing joy wherever they went. It’s a little bit soothing that the last days of their lives were spent in the love of their families,” Amiri said.
Another family friend, Mariana Eret, said the couple were “full of life, energy, plans, and dreams for the future.”
Eret said Razgar wanted to be a professor and that they were very caring and loving parents. Their son Jiwan just turned three last August and Gholami spent a whole month planning his birthday party.
“Jiwan was an extraordinary boy, he was smart, cheerful and he loved reading books. Last Halloween he wanted to be an avocado and Farideh made an avocado costume just for him.”
Eret said Farideh was seven months pregnant with their second son and the whole family were excited about the new addition.
“Farideh has already bought new things and decorated the bedroom for the new baby. They were caring and supportive friends and just fun people to be around. They had many close friends, both in the Iranian and non-Iranian communities,” Eret said. “If you had any question or problem, they were always there for you, ready to help selflessly in any way they could.”
Mohammad Sadeghi, Bahareh Hajesfandiari and Anisa Sadeghi, Winnipeg
Mohammad Sadeghi, Bahareh Hajesfandiari and Anisa Sadeghi.
A Winnipeg family of three will be dearly missed, said their neighbour Behnam Soltani.
Mohammad Sadeghi, who went by Mahdi; his wife Bahareh Hajesfandiari and their daughter Anisa Sadeghi were a kind family, Soltani said.
“They were some of the nicest people I’ve met.”
Soltani said the family was in Iran to visit relatives over the holidays and he knew they were coming back on the flight that crashed.
The family were involved in the local Iranian community, Soltani said. Mahdi Sadeghi was a board member for the Iranian association and Hajesfandiari volunteered at a Persian school.
Soltani was at their home about two weeks before they left. He never expected they wouldn’t return.
“Everybody is in shock. It is so bad.”
Forough Khadem, Winnipeg
Jude Uzonna, the Health Research Chair and an associate professor of immunology at the University of Manitoba, said he was devastated by the death of his friend and colleague Forough Khadem.
He met her at a conference in Iran where she was a translator. At the end of the conference Uzonna told her if she ever wanted to do a doctoral program she could come to his lab in Winnipeg. She took him up on the offer and graduated about three years ago from the University of Manitoba.
Khadem was a talented immunologist and an absolutely fantastic person to be around, Uzonna said.
“If you walk into a room and Forough is there, you will try to find out who is this lady. She is very affable. She connects with people,” he said. “It’s devastating.”
She went home to Iran in December to visit family. He texted her Monday to say he hoped that she was doing well. She responded that she was coming back to Winnipeg and hoped to see him soon.
“Now she’s gone,” he said.
Amirhossien Ghasemi, Winnipeg
Amir Shirzadi, a board member with the Manitoba Iranian Student Association, said his good friend Amirhossien Ghasemi was on the plane.
Shirzadi said his friend was visiting family in Iran and was on his way back to Winnipeg. Ghasemi was a graduate student in biomedical engineering at the University of Manitoba.
“I saw him before he left the country,” said Shirzadi, who added that the two played games together.
“I can’t use past tense. I think he’s coming back. We play again. We talk again. It’s too difficult to use past tense, too difficult. No one can believe it.”
Another good friend, Shahin Ahmadi, said Ghasemi always wanted to help people and expressed compassion to everyone he encountered. They spoke an hour before the flight and Ghasemi told Ahmadi he was happy to return home and get back to his studies.
“We told each other that we cannot wait to see each other again.”
Shekoufeh Choupannejad, Saba Saadat and Sara Saadat, Edmonton
Shekoufeh Choupannejad, left, with her daughters Sara Saadat, middle, and Saba Saadat, right.
Shayesteh Majdnia, a past president of the Iranian Heritage Society of Edmonton, said she was close friends with Shekoufeh Choupannejad, a gynecologist who died along with her two daughters Saba Saadat and Sara Saadat.
Saba was in the midst of her bachelors in the department of biological sciences at the University of Alberta, while Sara had just graduated from the university with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, the school confirmed Thursday.
Majdnia said she had spoken to Choupannejad’s husband, who is still in Iran, for confirmation. She said Choupannejad also leaves behind a son who was not on the trip with the family.
“She was the kindest person I had ever met,” Majdnia said of Choupannejad.
She said Choupannejad was always there for community fundraisers, and often did her best to help take appointments with new immigrants who were overwhelmed and unable to find immediate medical help.
University of Alberta members Mohammad Mahdi Elyasi, Amir Hossein Saeedinia and Elnaz Nabiyi
Mohammad Mahdi Elyasi
The University of Alberta confirmed the names of three more members of its community.
Mahdi Elyasi graduated from the university in 2017 with a masters from the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Faculty of Engineering.
According to the university, he was a bright and motivated student who always wanted to be helpful to others and taught English to refugees.
Amir Hossein Saeedinia was supposed to start his PhD student in the same department this month, according to the university. The school said he was known for his big smile, bright mind and enthusiasm for research and discovery.
Elnaz Nabiyi was a phD student in the Department of Accounting, Operations and Information Systems at Alberta School of Business.
The university said she graduated with a master’s degree from Sharif University of Technology in Tehran, before moving to Canada to be with her husband a few years ago to begin their PhDs.
University of Toronto student Mojtaba Abbasnezhad
The University of Toronto confirmed Mojtaba Abbasnezhad was among at least six students whose names are on the flight manifest. A LinkedIn profile with that name said he was a PhD student and teaching assistant at the school, and has done research on wastewater treatment.
Abbasnezhad was on the plane because he was returning from visiting his father and brother in Iran, according to his friend, Pooya Poolad.
“It’s sad and shocking. I still can’t believe he’s not here among us. He was only 26 and just started his PhD with many dreams.”
According to Poolad, Abbasnezhad had lost his mother a few years ago “and was always missing her. I think now they’re together.”
Poolad said he’d been thinking of joining his friend on the trip, but then changed his mind. “I wish he (had) never gone there as well. May he rest in peace,” he said in a Facebook message.
Saharnaz Haghjoo and her daughter Elsa Jadidi, Scarborough
Saharnaz Haghjoo and her daughter Elsa Jadidi
A photo of Pedram Jadidi, seen at a memorial at the University of Windsor.
Al Haadi School, a private elementary establishment in Scarborough, posted on its Facebook page on Wednesday afternoon that its Grade 3 student Elsa Jadidi was on the plane that crashed, along with her mother. Describing her as a bright and brilliant student, the school said her passing will leave “a gaping hole” in people’s hearts.
“She was a kind, compassionate soul who lit up our classrooms, and held so much promise as a stellar student and impeccable leader at such a young age,” the school statement reads in part.
“Our school will be much dimmer without Elsa to warm the hallways with her smile and laughter.”
Her mother, Saharnaz Haghjoo, was the manager of the Jump Scarborough program at the YWCA. The Jump program is designed to help resettle newcomers to the city.
Elsa had gone to school at Wali ul Asr in Brampton up until last year. A Facebook post from Wali ul Asr called Elsa a “wonderful girl who was always smiling.”
Haghjoo’s sister is one of Wali ul Asr’s central campus teachers. The school called Haghjoo “a great supporter of the school,” always making a point to “express her gratitude and appreciation to Elsa’s teachers.”
High school student Arshia Arbabbahrami and engineer Kasra Saati, Calgary
The Calgary Board of Education has confirmed that Arshia Arbabbahrami was an international student in Grade 12 at Western Canada School who was returning to Canada after spending the holidays with his family in Iran.
Principal Carma Cornea sent an email to students and families Wednesday that said Arbabbahrami was active in track, and the swim and dive teams: “He dreamt of being a doctor and was a leader in our community who many students looked up to.”
Wednesday evening Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi tweeted his condolences to Arbabbahrami’s family, as well as a second Calgarian killed in the crash. Kasra Saati was on the passenger list of the doomed flight.
“Our hearts are heavy as we grieve the loss across the country and in our city with Arshia and Kasra’s families,” he said.
Engineer Kasra Saati, listed as a passenger by the airline, was also believed to have been on the flight, according to a statement from his former employer, Viking Air.
In an emailed statement, a company spokesperson said he’d been a valued member of the team at the Calgary aircraft assembly facility up until last month. “His loss is deeply felt by everyone who had the opportunity to work with him,” the statement read.
Saati travelled to Iran over the holidays for a reunion with his wife and two children, said friend Nina Saeidpour.
“He was such a smart, social person and of course he was a family guy.”
Saeidpour said Saati boarded the plane to return to Calgary, while his wife, Mehsam, infant daughter and son, who is 10 or 11, stayed behind. Mehsam was in Iran during her maternity leave so that her family could help out with the new baby, Saeidpour said.
She said friends frantically went through the flight manifest when they got word of the crash. Saati’s name was on it, but not the rest of his family. Eventually Saeidpour was able to connect with Mehsam, who was in shock and surrounded by friends and family.
“It’s just so sad that people come here to have a better life for themselves and their families, and then something like this happens,” said Saeidpour. “Suddenly, they leave behind a beautiful young family.”
Angela Murray, a spokeswoman for Viking Air Ltd. said Saati worked at the company’s aircraft assembly facility from early 2018 until December 2019. His LinkedIn profile says he was a quality engineer.
“His loss is deeply felt by everyone who had the opportunity to work with him,” said Murray.
Ajax family Hiva Molani, Evin Arsalani and daughter Kurdia Molani
Hiva Molani, left, and Evin Arsalani
Kurdia Molani with her mother Evin Arsalani.
A young family of three from Ajax were also killed in the crash. Evin Arsalani, 30, her husband Hiva Molani, 38, and their one-year-old daughter Kurdia were all passengers on the flight that crashed. They were returning to Canada after spending three weeks in Iran to attend a wedding, according to friend Nasrin Alizadeh.
“We are all shocked and in disbelief. It was Evin’s birthday on Jan. 2, and she had just turned 30,” said Alizadeh in an emailed statement. “Evin’s mother is currently in the hospital with the rest of her family as her mother became ill after hearing the tragic news.
“They are a well respected and well known family here among the Kurdish Iranian community. May they rest in peace.”
“I’ve directed staff to lower our flags to half-mast and to offer our condolences,” said Ajax mayor Shaun Collier in response to the deaths of the family. “It’s a tragic loss. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family, I can’t imagine what they’re going through.”
Fatemeh Kazerani and Mohammadhosse Saket, North Vancouver
Fatemeh Kazerani and Mohammadhosse Saket
A young couple from North Vancouver, Fatemeh (Faye) Kazerani and Mohammadhosse (Daniel) Saket, were confirmed to have been on the flight. Sima Ghaffarzadeh, editor of Farsi-language Hamyaari media, told the Star a relative had identified the pair.
Daniel worked at North Vancouver-based real-estate developer Denna Homes, the company confirmed.
“This has been a very trying day for the Denna Homes family. As a small office of 10 people, Daniel’s passing is a significant loss to all of us. Daniel was a colleague, a friend and family. Both he and Faye will be sadly missed,” Dan Thomson, vice-president of marketing, said in a statement.
“Daniel and Faye both had a zest for life that lit up every room they entered.”
Farzad Taheri said he saw his cousins, who went by the English names Daniel and Faye, just before Christmas.
“We were the only family they had in Canada,” Taheri said.
Taheri described Saket as “extremely kind, generous, humble genius.”
His death is a “big loss to humanity,” he said.
“Faye was the most positive, also extremely kind and generous woman.”
Ayeshe Pourghaderi and daughter Fatemeh Pasavand, North Vancouver
Residents of North Vancouver identified Ayeshe Pourghaderi, 37, and Fatemeh Pasavand, 18, as mother and daughter. Pourghaderi and her husband opened Amir Bakery two years ago, according to Reza Varasteh, the manager of a shop and deli across the street.
The mother and daughter had been in Tehran visiting family and friends, according to Arash Azrahimi, owner of a photography business near the baker. The couple worked seven days a week and Pourghaderi did many of the bread deliveries to retailers herself, said Varasteh.
“I saw her two weeks ago,” he said. “She always had a smile on her face.”
According to Varasteh, Pourghaderi’s husband got on a flight back to Tehran as soon as he found out about the crash.
Firouzeh Madani and husband Naser Pourshabanoshibi, Metro Vancouver
Firouzeh Madani and her husband, Naser Pourshabanoshibi, were both doctors who had moved to Canada about six years ago to upgrade their educations said, family friend Majid Mahichi.
He said he’d known Pourshabanoshibi since they were in high school growing up in northern Iran. “He was one of the top students,” Mahichi said. “We were all waiting to see him be really successful.”
Mahichi said when he looked at the flight manifest he saw the names of his two friends, then later confirmed the news with Madani’s sister.
A North Vancouver couple in their mid-50s, Madani and Pourshaban were both award-winning physicians in Iran, said their niece Sara Hezarkhani. They were working towards getting their licences to practise in Canada.
“No words can describe their personalities, their true spirit, the passion that they had for the work,” Hezarkhani said.
The couple was in Iran for about two weeks over the holidays to visit family, she said.
Pourshaban and Madani had been living in Canada for about seven years, Hezarkhani said. Their daughter is a university student in the Lower Mainland. She was not on board the flight.
“This is a big loss for our family and it will be very hard to (get) over,” said Hezarkhani.
Asghar Dhirani, Caledon
Asghar Dhirani was remembered for his “vivacious personality on the golf course.” He was a religious leader and supporter of the non-profit Wali ul Asr school in Caledon, close friend Shaiq Ibrahim said. He would lead pilgrimages back to various religious sites in Iraq and Iran with the community.
“He was extremely helpful, kind, and polite,” the Wali ul Asr school wrote in a Facebook post. “He often told the school’s management ‘Please to not hesitate to ask, I will help the school in any way I can, whatever little I can do.’”
Western University students Milad Nahavandi, Hadis Hayatdavoudi, Ghazal Nourian and Sajedeh Saraeian
Hadis Hayatdavoudi was a PhD student at Western University.
Sajedeh Saraeian, left.
In London, Ont., the University of Western Ontario held a Wednesday night vigil for four graduate students who lost their lives in the plane crash:
Milad Nahavandi, a PhD candidate in Chemical and Biochemical Engineering, Hadis Hayatdavoudi, a PhD candidate in Chemistry and Sajedeh Saraeian, an incoming Masters student in Chemical and Biochemical Engineering, and Ghazal Nourian, a PhD candidate in Mechanical and Materials Engineering.
University president Alan Shepard called the deaths “devastating.”
“It’s just heartbreaking and difficult to comprehend,” Shepard told the Western News. According to the university’s paper, all four were international students.
Hayatdavoudi was studying the effects of hydrogen on copper at the Electrochemistry and Corrosion Science Centre. Its goal is to examine how corrosion affects nuclear waste containers. Her supervisor, Jamie Noel, said Hayatdavoudi had spent a month in Iran with her family — her first time back home since she moved to Canada on her own in September 2018. He said she was on the flight so she could be back in Canada in time to act as a teaching assistant for one of his courses.
“She found Canadians were very welcoming to her, coming from so far away, all by herself, a single woman in a strange country, with a different language,” said Noel, who noted that she quickly found community with other Persian students in his lab.
University of Ottawa students Alma Oladi, Mehraban Badiei, and Saeed Kashani
Saeed K. Kashani .
At the University of Ottawa, a professor of international affairs shared his condolences in a Twitter post for three students, Alma Oladi, Mehraban Badiei and Saeed Kashani, who died in the crash.
“Deepest condolences to the families of three uOttawa students… and to all the other grieving families,” Roland Paris posted.
The university school paper featured Badiei, a first-year health sciences student who said her goals for 2020 were to meet new people and make new friends.
“Since the publication of this article on Tuesday, January 7, 2020, we were saddened to learn that Mehraban was a victim in the tragic Flight PS752 accident in Iran. We offer our sympathy and condolences to her family and friends,” the updated article read.
Saeed K. Kashani was entering the fourth year of his chemistry PhD degree, said Stephen G. Newman, an associate professor in the department of chemistry and biomolecular sciences. His focus was on organic synthetic: the branch of chemistry that deals with how to construct complex, valuable molecules from commercially available chemical building blocks.
Alma Oladi was a PhD student studying mathematics at the University of Ottawa. Students and staff who knew her turned her desk into a makeshift memorial on Wednesday, with white flowers and cards placed next to a picture of her signature smile.
“She always had this smile on her face,” said Mohsen Zandimoghadam, who was a friend of Oladi.
“She was a nice and kind girl. She always wanted to explore places and discover new things in life and new places … she had so many plans for her life in Canada.”
Saint Mary’s University students Maryam Malek and Fatemeh Mahmoodi
The Saint Mary’s University Students’ Association in Halifax expressed their condolences late Wednesday night for the loss of two students, Maryam Malek and Fatemeh Mahmoodi, who were studying for a master’s degree in finance.
“We would like to express our thoughts to the families, friends, and colleagues,” the association wrote in a statement.
“I knew them very well,” said Colin Dodds, the program’s academic director and the university’s former president, who noted he had taught them in November and December and had stayed in touch with the pair during the holiday break.
The intense, 12-month program is aimed at helping students establish a career in the financial services sector.
“To celebrate the fact that it was the end of the first semester ... they were going home to see parents and family,” Dodds said. “It’s a huge loss.”
Malek was in her early 40s and Mahmoodi was in her early 30s. Both spoke three languages.
University of Victoria student Roja Omidbakhsh
The University of Victoria confirmed that Roja Omidbakhsh, a first-year student, died in the plane crash.
“It is always a profound loss for the entire community when we lose someone, and our hearts and thoughts go out to Roja’s loved ones,” University president Jamie Cassels wrote in a statement Wednesday.
Omidbakhsh was a “very positive” student, professor Mark Colgate said.
“She was on the pathway to complete a bachelor of commerce ... we’re heartbroken that this happened and our condolences go to her family and classmates.”
University of Toronto students Mohammad Amin Beiruti and Mohammad Salehe
Mohammad Amin Beiruti.
The University of Toronto confirmed that two more of its students were killed in the crash in a Wednesday press release: Mohammad Amin Beiruti and Mohammad Salehe.
“On behalf of the entire University of Toronto community, I want to say how deeply saddened we are, and how concerned we are for the families and friends of those who lost their lives,” U of T president Meric Gertler said in a statement. “We are continuing to gather information, and taking care to respect the privacy and wishes of all involved.”
Salehe was a PhD student in computer science. He was relatively new to Canada, having moved to Toronto about a year and half ago. Friends told UofT News that Salehe had exceptional talent and was a very skilled programmer.
Fellow PhD student Seyed Hossein Mortazavi described Salehe as a “remarkable” human being who was always eager to help others. “I don’t know anyone that has ever said any bad thing about him and I’ve known him for 22 years,” he said of Salehe.
Mohammad Amin Beiruti was pursuing a PhD in computer science. At a campus memorial, his professor Yashar Ganjali told mourners that Beiruti was working on a project to design controllers for next-generation internet. He was someone who “wanted to make the world a better place,” Ganjali said, according to UofT News.
Amir Ovaysi, Asal Ovaysi and Sara Hamzeei, GTA
Amir Ovaysi and his daughter Asal.
Amir Ovaysi and his wife Sara Hamzeei.
Amir Ovaysi, 42, is remembered as a proud family man who would often show his colleagues videos and photos of his six-year-old daughter, Asal, and his wife, Sara Hamzeei, 34.
His manager, Troy Futher, says the three were in Iran to visit Ovaysi’s aging parents. Ovaysi left in mid-December, joining his wife and daughter, who had arrived in November. It was their first visit home since they came to Canada about two years ago.
Futher said he hired Ovaysi at his heating, ventilation and air-conditioning company, Smith Energy Inc., in June. Ovaysi had a master’s degree in mechanical engineering. He worked out of the company’s Mississauga, Ont., office, but had a house in Newmarket, Ont.
“He was genuine. He was a super person — a brilliant mind, an astute student,” said Futher, who added it was heartbreaking to have to inform staff that Ovaysi and his family were on board the flight.
“A lot of the employees took it extremely hard,” he said. “It’s been a sombre day, a very difficult day.”
Nasim Rahmanifar, Edmonton
Nasim Rahmanifar was a master's student in the University of Alberta's mechanical engineering department.
Nasim Rahmanifar, a master’s student in the University of Alberta’s mechanical engineering department, was nervous about her first winter in Edmonton.
“She was so excited to go back ... she planned to surprise her mom,” her friend Sina Esfandiarpour told Edmonton media at a news conference.
He said he received a text from Rahmanifar from the airport that she was on her way back and she wasn’t looking forward to the cold weather.
“She was afraid,” said Esfandiarpour. “She just came in May and she said, ‘They told me it was just freezing cold.’
“She is never going to see that.”
Ramin Fathian, Rahmanifar’s officemate, said she was really worried about the weather in Edmonton.
“She was asking me all the time, ‘What is the best jacket?’” he recalled. “We were saying it’s not that bad. You will get used to it.”
One of her supervisors, Prof. Hossein Rouhani, said Rahmanifar was a highly motivated, hard-working student who had recently earned a scholarship.
“She was an outstanding student,” said Rouhani, who added Rahmanifar planned to complete a PhD when she returned to Canada.
Roja Azadian, Ottawa
Roja Azadian was supposed to travel to Canada for the first time with her husband, who has been studying at Algonquin College in Ottawa, but a mix-up over his ticket meant he could not get on the plane with her.
“He was thinking, I’m going to send her and then I’m going to be back on the next flight,” said Leila Hojabri, a friend of Azadian’s husband.
He called a friend in Ottawa, asking if he could pick Azadian up at the airport and ensure she was safe. Instead, her husband remains safe in Iran and she died aboard Ukraine International Airlines flight PS 752.
“She wasn’t sure if she should come to Canada and he was just building here and getting ready for her to join him and it’s just a really, really tragic story,” Hojabri said.
Dalhousie student Masoumeh Ghavi and sister Mandieh Ghavi
Masoumeh Ghavi, a master’s student at Dalhousie in IT and communications, and her younger sister Mahdieh, a first-year student, were flying back to Halifax to resume their studies.
Sadra Kord-Jamshidi, president of the Dalhousie Iranian Students Society (DISS), said that Masoumeh had just recently come to Halifax.
“I met her last October at an annual general meeting that we held for the DISS. She came here in September. She was the nicest and also a very hard-working individual. Being a self-funded master’s students working two jobs to make ends meet, she also offered the society her help in all of our events,” Kord-Jamshidi told the Star.
A Tehran native, Masoumeh had been working at MTN Irancell and Huawei previously, according to her Facebook profile.
Dalhousie’s Iranian Students Society put out a statement on Wednesday, writing that “we are deeply saddened by the tragic crash of flight #PS752 that was headed from Tehran to Kyiv and took away our beautiful Masoumeh and many other brilliant minds.” The group has organized a vigil, which is taking place on Jan. 11.
Terry Balser, Dalhousie’s provost and vice-president academic, said on Wednesday in a news release that “on behalf of the entire Dalhousie University community, I wish to offer my deepest condolences to all impacted by this tragedy, including those on our campuses and in the broader Iranian community in our region. We are here for you and thinking of you in this difficult time.”
Sheyda Shadkhoo, Markham
Shadkhoo, 41, was a chemist who worked as a control substance co-ordinator at SGS Corp. in Markham, Ont., a Swiss company that helps inspect, test and verify that products on the market meet various government standards.
Her husband, Hassan Shadkhoo, said his wife phoned him Wednesday, just before the plane took off, because she was afraid to fly. The conflict between Iran and the United States and the missile attacks had alarmed her.
He said he is gutted that he reassured his wife it would be OK. Twenty minutes after they got off the phone, the plane crashed.
“I wasn’t there,” he said, sobbing. “I should have been there with her.”
The couple was married for 10 years. Sheyda was in Iran to visit her mother.
University of British Columbia fellow Mehran Abtahi, Vancouver
On Wednesday, the University of British Columbia confirmed that Dr. Mehran Abtahi, a postdoctoral research fellow studying civil engineering died in the flight.
He was among three UBC alumni, Niloofar Razzaghi, Zeynab Asadi Lari, and Mohammad Asadi Lari.
“I wish to once again, on behalf of the university, express my deepest condolences to the families, friends and loved ones of our community members,” Santa J. Ono, university president, wrote in a statement.
Shakiba Feghahati and Rosstin Moghaddam, GTA
Shahin (Shawn) Moghaddam, Shakiba Feghahati and Rosstin Moghaddam, 10.
Shakiba Feghahati and her son, Rosstin Moghaddam, 10, didn’t make it back home to Nobleton after visiting family in Iran, Feghahati’s husband, Shahin (Shawn) Moghaddam, said.
“Please give them back to me,” Moghaddam pleaded through tears, his voice trembling.
He said Feghahati helped him at their metal fabricating business in Woodbridge and took care of Rosstin.
Rosstin, their only child, was a Grade 4 French immersion student at Beynon Fields Public School in Richmond Hill.
The family moved to Canada seven years ago, according to one of Feghahati’s posts on Instagram.
“We didn’t hear good news from Iran in the last few days. It’s completely broken my heart…” Feghahati wrote in a post in Persian Nov. 19. “Today we witnessed the selfishness of human beings … Our change and revolution can begin here.”
Behnaz Ebrahimi-Khoei and her son Rahmtin Ahmadi, Toronto
Behnaz Ebrahimi-Khoei, a property valuation analyst in Toronto, died in the crash, the Ontario Public Service Employees Union confirmed.
“Behraz was a member and steward with Local 552. She will be dearly missed,” the union wrote in a statement.
According to the union group, she was one exam away from completing her Canadian Residential Appraiser (CRA) designation.
Ebrahimi-Khoei is remembered as a kind-hearted person and a dedicated mother, according to co-workers. Her son, Rahmtin Ahmadi, a Grade 4 student in the Toronto District School Board, was also killed in the crash.
The TDSB sent out letters to notifying the Muirhead Public School community that Ahmadi, was killed. The note called Ahmadi an “energetic and enthusiastic young man,” who loved to play tag and was known to “greet staff and students each morning with a friendly hello.”
Amihossein Ghorbani Bahabadi, Winnipeg
Amirhossein Bahabadi Ghorbani.
The University of Manitoba has identified Amirhossein Ghorbani Bahabadi, a current student with the International College of Manitoba, as one of the victims from the crash in a statement from Wednesday morning.
He is one of five alumni and students from the University of Manitoba to be named.
During a vigil at the university his close friend Ayda Mohammadian said Ghorbani wanted to be a doctor. Ghorbani studied very hard but was also a lot of fun, his friend said. Ghorbani’s goal was always to become successful so he could take care of his parents back in Iran, she added.
“We never knew that on the way back here he was going to die, and we are the ones who lost him,” she said holding back tears.
Before Ghorbani went back to Iran in December, Mohammadian told her friend she was worried for him. Ghorbani told her that he would return in 20 days and they could get back to planning their futures.
“But he didn’t come back,” she said.
University of Windsor members Pedram Jadidi and Mohammad Abaspour Ghadi
Two more people with ties to the University of Windsor, Pedram Jadidi and Mohammad Abaspour Ghadi, have been identified as victims from the plane crash.
Jadidi was a doctoral student of civil engineering and Ghadi, the spouse of Zahra Naghibi, who was also a doctoral student of civil engineering at the school. A total of five people have been identified by the school.
“This is a real tragedy for our institution,” said University of Windsor president Robert Gordon. “These were five extraordinary individuals who embodied what our University is all about.”
Jadidi was in Iran to mark the first anniversary of his father’s death, his friend Mehran Eshaghi told a memorial service.
He had moved to Canada to study civil engineering at the University of Windsor shortly after his dad died and he went home to be with his family.
“Who would have thought this was going to be his last farewell to his mother?” Eshaghi asked. “Who would believe this beautiful family would lose a father and son in a year?”
Eshaghi said his friend was a strong student and more.
“He demonstrated to be an exceptional, enthusiastic researcher,” he said. “Outside of work space, Pedram was known by all of us as an approachable friend. He was a keen lover of movies, music and sport and was a skilled graphic designer.”
Jadidi’s PhD supervisor Shaohong Cheng said Jadidi was a promising young scientist.
“He brought all his passion, his expertise, to my group, to my lab,” Cheng said, recounting how Jadidi and a colleague had created a wind tunnel experiment.
“I still remember that moment when Pedram and his partner came to my office and proudly showed me the video of that test,” she said. “We were so excited. We cheered together for this milestone in my research group.”
Zahra Naghibi, Windsor
Zahra Naghibi was a PhD student and colleague of Jacqueline Stagner at the University of Windsor. Stagner said she was informed by the head of the lab where Naghibi worked that she was on the plane.
“She was very helpful and warm,” Stagner said.
Naghibi was a part of Windsor’s Turbulence and Energy Lab, where she worked on issues related to solar energy.
Stagner said when one of her students — just starting graduate work and new to Canada — needed help, Naghibi stepped in.
“Zahra was giving her advice, helping her out, letting her learn from her own work and what she’d discovered — helping her along, the next generation of researchers. She was very welcoming.”
Shahab Raana and Sahand Hatefi-Mostaghim, Montreal
Shahab Raana and Sahand Hatefi-Mostaghim
Two students at the Avrion Technical Institute in Montreal have been identified as victims in the crash. Shahab Raana and Sahand Hatefi-Mostaghim were “not just one, but two of my best and most valuable students,” their teacher Mike Stephens wrote in a Facebook post.
“Shahab and Sahand were incredibly talented, smart, hard working and goal oriented,” Stephens added. “They were both eager to learn as much as they could as well as wanted to.”
A fellow classmate in their welding and fitting class, Dong Wong Lee, from South Korea, became really close friends with Raana and Hatefi-Mostaghim, despite language barriers.
“All of our classmates are really close each other. We shared lots of different things such as culture, language, experience and we enjoy to talk about it a lot,” he told the Star. “Even though it wasn’t a long time, we were all like brothers. We are in a deep sad mood.”
Queen’s University student Amir Moradi
Queen’s University is mourning the loss of a student, Amir Moradi, who died in the plane crash. Moradi was enrolled in the Faculty of Arts and Science, according to a statement shared by the university.
“Having just received new information, it is with great sadness that I must now convey that one of our undergraduate students has perished in the plane crash tragedy in Iran. That tragedy, which has touched so many of our higher education institutions in Canada, has now affected Queen’s directly,” school principal Patrick Deane said.
Farzaneh Naderi and 11-year-old son Noojan Sadr, Winnipeg
Farzaneh Naderi and her 11-year-old son, Noojan Sadr, from Winnipeg have been identified as victims. A GoFundMe page has been organized Sadr’s cousin Negysa Kalar.
“Farzaneh was an amazing mother, wife, aunt, and incredible person. My cousin Noojan was charismatic, caring, and beyond his years. Too young to have lost such a beautiful soul,” the post from the family read.
“She loved her family so much and would do anything for us,” Kalar said of Naderi. “She was so full of life and selfless.”
The family moved to Winnipeg about 15 years ago. Naderi volunteered for three years before being permanently employed as a tutor for children with autism at St. Amant, a not-for-profit foundation in Manitoba.
A statement from St. Amant said Naderi had a big heart and genuinely cared about her colleagues, the children and their families.
Noojan loved to play video games and soccer. He adored his family, his cousin said.
“My little cousin was the sweetest boy and so humble.”
The mother and son were on their way home to Winnipeg after visiting family in Iran. Kalar has started the Sadr Family Memorial Fund to support her uncle, Abolfazl Sadr, who lost his son and wife.
Soheila Massoumeh Moshref Ravazi Moghaddam, West Vancouver
Family friend Majid Majid Mahichi has confirmed West Vancouver resident Soheila Massoumeh Moshref Ravazi Moghaddam was aboard the plane.
Mahichi said the mother of three worked as an office manager at a local hotel.
Fereshteh Maleki Dizaje, Ottawa
Dizaje, a 47-year-old Ottawa architect, was travelling back from Iran after attending the wedding of her only daughter.
Her longtime friend Reza Eslami, who first met her at the architectural school in Tehran, described her as a “brilliant architect” and “amazing friend.”
“She had no problem picking up construction tools and building things with her own hands,” he said.
A single mom who had moved to Canada a few years ago, she was looking forward to focusing a bit more on her own life, now that her daughter was married.
“She always had this smile, no matter what state of mind she was in,” Eslami added.
Mohammad Moeini, Sherbrooke, Que.
Mohammad Moeini, a resident of Sherbrooke, Que., has been identified as a victim of the plane crash.
According to his LinkedIn page, Moeini worked as a Mechanical Designer at Bombardier Recreational Products.
Sherbrooke Mayor Steve Lussier shared his condolences in a Facebook post.
Sharieh Faghihi, Halifax
Dalhousie University released a statement Thursday confirming Dr. Sharieh Faghihi was killed in the crash.
Born in Tehran, Faghihi immigrated to Canada in 2011 with her husband and two children. After graduating from Dalhousie in 2016, she returned to the faculty to teach in the Division of Periodontology in 2017 and also worked in private practice in Halifax. According to an alumni magazine, she also helped establish a dental centre for disabled children in need in Tehran.
Faghihi was an “absolute joy,” said LJ Turnbull, regional manager for Dentalcorp.
“One of the kindest human beings,” said Turnbull. “She had a fantastic sense of humour and she was great with the patients ... She was friends with everybody on the team.”
Another colleague, dentist Ebrahim Kiani, said he first met Faghihi 25 years ago when she was head of the periodontics department at the Shiraz University of Medical Science in Iran.
“She was very kind, very generous with her knowledge and very skilled,” Kiani said. “She was published in many journals ... She was a good mentor for me.”
Dawn Collins told the Star she was a patient of hers.
She paid tribute to her “maternal presence” in a Facebook post, saying she made her feel more comfortable in the dentist chair.
“I always felt she was very loving in her work and nurturing,” said Dawn Collins. “Appreciate her.”
Farhad Niknam, Toronto
Dr. Farhad Niknam, a dentist in Toronto, has been identified by the Iranian Ontario Dental Association as a victim of the crash.
In a Facebook post from Wednesday, the organization named Niknam along with two other dentists in Ontario.
“May they rest in peace…..I would like to extend my most heartfelt condolences to their families and loved ones,” Reza Termei, the IODA president, said.
Niknam, 44, moved to Winnipeg five years ago with his wife and daughter after running a dental practice in Iran for 15 years, said Sanaz Valadi, his friend of 20 years.
About three years ago, after having a son, the family moved to Toronto. Niknam took his dental equivalency exam and began to train other foreign dentists.
He had recently settled the family in a new condominium and registered to be a dentist in Toronto.
Valadi said they spoke on the phone only three days ago and Niknam was excited to come back to Canada to start a new phase of his career. Instead, Valadi spent the hours after the crash with Niknam’s grieving wife.
Niknam and his wife, Mojgan, had been married for 15 years. Valadi said she will never forget how much they glowed as they danced at their wedding.
Now Mojgan is alone with her daughter Yana, 7, and son Yuna, 3.
Niknam’s family flew back to Iran on Wednesday to have DNA tests done so they can retrieve his body.
Niloufar Sadr, Montreal
Niloufar Sadr, a mother, artist, and community member in Montreal’s art scene, was killed in the plane crash, the MEKIC art gallery shared on social media.
Sadr was a “beloved friend” and “helped lots of artists and artisans” when she worked at gallery. “So many memories and its still so hard to believe this tragedy. God bless her soul,” the post read.
The MEKIC gallery represents the Iranian and Middle Eastern artist community.
Sadr, 61, was returning to Toronto after a visit with family in Iran.
Sadr had lived in Montreal for many years but moved to Toronto a few years ago to be closer to her adult children and grandchildren, said Elahe Machouf, a longtime friend.
She described Sadr as someone who was full of life and had managed an art gallery in Montreal.
“She was very involved in the cultural field,” Machouf said. “Recently, she moved to Toronto because her children had moved there and she followed them, as many mothers do.”
Machouf said Sadr’s father was Ahmad Sayyed Javadi, a prominent Iranian lawyer, politician and political activist, who died in 2013.
Sadr’s ex-husband Reza Banisadre, a Montreal architect, said Sadr visited Iran every year.
“She was very joyous. She had lots of friends,” Banisadre said. “She loved life.”
Sadr leaves two daughters and a son, as well as three grandchildren.
Faraz Falsafi, Toronto
Faraz Falsafi, a Toronto software engineer, had been visiting family in his hometown of Tehran over the holidays. A friend of his and fellow engineer, Arian Hosseinzadeh, said Falsafi was a scholar who completed a bachelor’s degree in software engineering and master’s degree in the science in intelligent systems at Kabir University of Technology, and a master’s in machine learning at McGill University.
It was there, at McGill in Montreal, that Hosseinzadeh said he and Falsafi met.
“He was fun, he was humble, and he was very smart and talented,” Hosseinzadeh wrote in an email to the Star. “Not only his family and friends, but I’m sure the world is going to miss such a good person.”
Hamidreza (Sam) Djavadi and son Kian Djavadi, Missisauga
Hamidreza (Sam) Djavadi
Hamidreza (Sam) Djavadi and his teenage son Kian were returning to Canada from a holiday trip to Iran. His wife had caught an earlier flight back so she could return to work.
They lived in Mississauga but had a cottage in Grand Bend, Ont. That small community is now mourning them, remembering them both as “just really friendly, truly kind souls,” said Michael Vanhevel in a message to the Star.
Vanhevel, who worked at the marina in Grand Bend, said the father and son could often be seen out on their boat and would stop to chat as they filled it up with gas.
“We remember them vividly, and everyone who worked there, including me, loved to see them coming down the channel,” he said.
Juan Castro, hired Kian to work for him last summer, at his Grand Bend water sports rental company.
The teen “pretty much made the whole summer” quickly becoming a key member of the team who would often invite other employees back to his parents’ cottage for dinners. “He was such a good kid,” Castro said. Sam, as he was known, was always one of the first ones out on his boat each season and “pretty much made friends with everybody.”
George Brown students Kiana Ghasemi and Darya Toghian, Toronto
Kiana Ghasemi was on her way to begin studies at George Brown College, family friend Mohammad Rastifar confirmed in a message to the Star.
“God bless her,” he said. Family friend Samira Akbari added Ghasemi was “really excited” about this new chapter in Canada.
“Her dad had tried so hard to send her over there,” she said over the phone from San Francisco. “It’s so sad.”
Darya Toghian was studying at George Brown College and was also killed in the crash.
The college did not release the names of the two students killed in the crash, but said one was studying in the Architectural Technology program and the other in the Computer Programmer Analyst program.
“The shock and sorrow felt across Canada right now feels particularly heightened for us with the tragic deaths of two of our students. To those of you who studied and worked with the students we lost this week, I extend my deepest sympathies,” George Brown College President Anne Sado said.
“We share this grief and profound sense of loss with our colleagues across the post-secondary education community, who are also mourning the deaths of their co-workers and students — individuals who were preparing to take on the challenges of a new semester and were working towards bright futures. Honouring the memories of those who died may ease some of the anguish we’re all feeling.”
Mahmoud Attar, GTA
Zohreh Attar was beside herself with worry, knowing her brother Mahmoud, 69, was about to board a plane to fly from Iran to Canada just as the area was brewing with war.
“I didn’t want to upset him, but I was so afraid. I texted him, told him to be careful.”
But he shrugged off her worries and instead texted back, asking what he could do for her, what did she need that he could buy in the airport and bring to Richmond Hill?
It was typically selfless Mahmoud, Zohreh said, always thinking about others, never himself.
He had been excited to help his 35-year-old daughter, Sahar Attar, decorate her new North York home. He was bringing her treasured items, dinnerware and photos from Iran, to make it her own.
“Before he left,” Sahar said, “he said ‘don’t worry, I have wrapped them very carefully so they won’t be broken on the way.’”
These were the last messages Zohreh and Sahar received from Mahmoud.
Zohreh, a resident of Richmond Hill since 2007, said Mahmoud loved Canada; Sahar smiled, remembering how delighted he always was to hear Canadian border officials say, “welcome to Canada.”
Zahra Hasani, Toronto
Zahra Hasani was the wife of student Mohammad Salehe, who was also on board the plane.
They made a great couple, said longtime friend Seyed Hossein Mortazavi.
Salehe was a talented scientist who grew up with a love of computer programming, while Hasani wanted to do her master’s at the University of Toronto.
After completing two degrees from Sharif University of Technology in Tehran, Iran, and working as a senior software engineer at a tech company, Salehe started his PhD in computer science at the University of Toronto, Mortazavi said.
“Although he was usually quiet, he was very active in multiple social and religious communities, always trying to be there for his friends and neighbours,” said Mortazavi.
“Zahra was caring, devoted to her friends and family,” he said.
The two were on their way back from visiting family in Iran after the last school term.
Masoud Shaterpour Khiaban, GTA
Masoud Shaterpour Khiaban
The young man was about to begin his studies at York University’s school of continuing studies, York confirmed.
He was supposed to be doing a post-graduate certificate in the business administration program.
“We are heartbroken by this news,” said president and vice-chancellor Rhonda L. Lenton in a statement.
“On behalf of the York community, we extend our heartfelt condolences to everyone affected by this tragedy.”
Niloofar Rastgar spoke to his father’s cousin, Shaterpour over text in the months prior to the fall of Ukraine Airlines 752. They spoke about Shaterpour moving to Canada and beginning his new life at York University to earn his MBA. Rastgar, who said he may have only met Shaterpour once or twice as a little kid, said Shaterpour had made quite the impression through the short, brief text messages.
“I could tell that he was a hard working, well-educated and kind person,” Rastgar said, noting that Shaterpour, 31, had a medical degree from a university in Iran. “He was a self made person.”
Rastgar, who lives in Vancouver, said Shaterpour’s mother passed away when he was a teenager and his father had died about four months ago.
“He had two brothers and two sisters who are in shock and mourning for him.”
Shahrokh Eghbali Bazoft, Maryam Agha Miri and Shahzad Eghbali Bazoft
Shahrokh Eghbali Bazoft (left), Maryam Agha Miri and eight-year-old Shahzad Eghbali Bazoft
Shahrokh Eghbali Bazoft, his wife Maryam Agha Miri and their eight-year-old daughter Shahzad Eghbali Bazoft lived in Toronto and all died together, said Sharokh’s niece, Nadia Eghbali.
Eghbali said her uncle was a kind soul and a charismatic person.
“It was really hard not to like him because he was so kind. He had the best stories with funny voices and expressions that he would make,” said Eghbali, on the phone from Chicago. “He had everyone laughing including himself.”
Eghbali, a Grade 3 student at Dallington Public School, was “a very creative and curious student,” a letter sent out by the school reads. “She enjoyed coming to school and approached her learning with enthusiasm.” School officials wrote that Eghbali’s “thinking was out of the box and she brought new, innovative ideas to her classmates.”
“Maryam was a kind person, a devoted mother, wife and friend,” Eghbali said. “She always made us feel welcome, she made you feel loved.”
Eghbali said Shahzad had a creative mind.
“She had a great giggle and she just meant so much to her parents,” she said.
“They were a wonderful family and they’ll be truly missed.”
Pegah Safar Poor Koloor, GTA
York University identified Pegah Safar Poor Koloor as one of three students lost in the tragedy. Koloor was a first-year Faculty of Science student, studying biology.
York joined universities across the country in paying tribute to the victims of the crash with a moment of silence on Wednesday.
With files from Yorkregion.com, DurhamRegion.com, Toronto.com, the Hamilton Spectator, Mississauga.com, Guelph Mercury Tribune, and The Canadian Press
EDMONTON—A newlywed couple. A family of four. Students returning from their winter break.
Edmonton’s small Iranian community was counting its losses in a state of shock Wednesday after a plane crash in Iran that left 176 people dead — including more than five dozen Canadians, many of whom had been travelling home to Alberta.
“More than anything, people are mourning,” said Pegah Salari, an active member of the city’s Iranian community. “We are still at that initial state of grief when everyone’s so shocked.”
The Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737-800 was en route to Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, when it crashed shortly after take off, killing all aboard. There were 63 Canadians on the flight and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said 138 passengers were on their way to Toronto.
While a list compiled by the community pegged the city’s losses at 25 people, the Star has so far been able to independently confirm that 13 members of the local Iranian community died in the crash.
“The impact is so big, because of the large number of individuals involved, that it’s going to take some time for us to actually comprehend what actually happened,” Salari said.
“More than anything, it’s a sense of disbelief right now.”
Edmonton has around 4,300 people of Iranian origin, according to a 2016 Statistics Canada census, compared to about 95,000 in the Greater Toronto Area and 45,000 in Vancouver. At a Wednesday media availability, Reza Akbari, president of the Iranian Heritage Society of Edmonton, estimated Edmonton’s Iranian community is closer to 5,000 people, and up to 6,000 when students are included.
He said the University of Alberta has been a popular destination for Iranian students because it’s perceived as one of the top research universities in the country, specifically citing their engineering, energy and environment programs.
Masoud Ardakani, the University of Alberta’s associate chair of electrical and computer engineering, confirmed in an email that professors Mojgan Daneshmand and Pedram Mousavi were on the flight, along with their daughters Daria, 14, and Dorina, 9.
Daneshmand is listed as an associate professor in the engineering department at U of A, as well as Canada Research Chair Tier II in Radio Frequency (RF) Microsystems for Communication and Sensing. Mousavi worked in the same department as a professor in mechanical engineering.
Pedram Mousavi, 47, Mojgan Daneshmand, 43, and their daughters, Daria Mousavi, 14, and Dorina Mousavi, 9, seen in this family photo posted to Pedram Mousavi's Facebook account in 2014, were killed in the plane crash near Tehran early Wednesday. The family lived in Edmonton and Mousavi and Daneshmand were professors at the University of Alberta.
Friend Nooran Ostadeian remembered Daneshmand and Mousavi as the “happiest couple” she had known. Ostadeian had known them since 2010 when she helped them find a home as a real estate agent when they moved to Edmonton.
“I want them to be remembered as a symbol of love, community members who did a lot ... Great teachers for their students.”
Maryam Hajazi, who coached Dorina in a soccer program, remembers the girl as being intelligent and curious. She would frequently ask questions about techniques and how she could be the best player she could be.
“She most probably got the gene from her parents,” Hajazi said. “She was so smart, everyone liked her.”
The Calgary Board of Education, meanwhile, confirmed that Arshia Arbabbahrami was an international student in Grade 12 at Western Canada School, who was returning to Canada after spending the holidays with his family in Iran.
Principal Carma Cornea sent an email to students and families that said Arbabbahrami was active in track, as well as the swim and dive teams: “He dreamt of being a doctor and was a leader in our community who many students looked up to.”
Ramin Fathian worked in the same office as Nasim Rahmanifar, who was working on her master’s degree in mechanical engineering at the U of A and was considering a second master’s or doctorate.
She had started the program in May 2019, and Fathian remembers how anxious and scared she was of Edmonton’s winter, having lived most of her life in Iran. He said their group of friends spent time together every weekend, frequently playing volleyball. Rahmanifar was always eager to go back to Iran.
“She was super excited to get back home to visit her family … She missed them a lot,” he said.
Also on board were young newlyweds Arash Pourzarabi and Pouneh Gorji, of Edmonton. Payman Parseyan, an active member of the Iranian community, said they’d married days before boarding the plane.
Newlyweds Arash Pourzarabi, 26, and Pouneh Gorji, 25, are seen in this March 2019 photo taken by friends in Edmonton. The couple was killed in the plane crash near Tehran Wednesday.
Uploaded by: Fowler, Tanis
Amir Samani, a graduate student in the same computer science department Gorji and Pourzarabi belonged to, said he remembers Pourzarabi going out of his way to help with his studies.
“I’m in big denial right now. I can’t understand what’s going through my mind,” he said. “I even check my phone to see, is he going back online again? Are we going to talk again?”
He said it was good having friends of Iranian ancestry at the university because there isn’t a huge Iranian community in Edmonton. He wasn’t able to go to the couple’s wedding, but had hoped to attend a small ceremony with friends upon their return.
Pourzarabi was working on a graduate degree in artificial intelligence at the University of Alberta, and his supervisor, Professor Michael Bowling, said the couple loved to spend their free time exploring new parts of Edmonton.
What we know and don’t know about Ukraine International Airline Flight 752
Bowling described Pourzarabi as “so bright.”
“Not just smart, which you have to be doing a graduate degree in artificial intelligence,” he said in an email, “but he brought a brightness to each meeting … particularly with his smile.”
Throughout the day, community organizations and members were co-ordinating vigils with hundreds expected to attend. On Wednesday night, mourners gathered for a candlelight vigil outside the Alberta legislature in Edmonton.
Salari said the high number of Edmonton community members on board likely had to do with sanctions and travel restrictions that Iranians have to grapple with when flying. There aren’t as many airlines flying to Iran and options are limited.
“For as long as I can remember, there was a few preferred airlines that would allow for people to travel with all the limitations that are on them,” she said.
Few members of Edmonton’s Iranian community in the city will be left untouched by the loss of life, Salari said.
Akbari, with the Iranian Heritage Society, said there will be a vigil held on Friday but the exact time and location was still being confirmed.
With files from Alex Boyd and Rosa Saba
EDMONTON—Members of the Iranian community in Edmonton are dismayed by U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal.
“It’s unfortunate to see the Trump administration vetoing this agreement without another agreement in place,” said Payman Parseyan, president of the Iranian Heritage Society of Edmonton. “This can have long-term negative consequences for everyone at the table.”
Iran agreed in 2015 to allow international supervisors to monitor its nuclear activities, reassuring other nations that it is not developing weapons of mass destruction. In return, those nations would lift a number of crippling economic sanctions.
Trump announced Tuesday that the United States will withdraw from the landmark agreement. Tearing up the deal was one of his campaign promises.
“The fact is this was a horrible one-sided deal that should have never, ever been made,” Trump said Tuesday. “It didn’t bring calm, it didn’t bring peace and it never will.”
Parseyan said the decision had an immediate financial impact.
“It’s sending the Iranian economy into a downward spiral,” he said. “The average Iranian is struggling more and more to provide basic needs to their families.”
The Iranian rial has indeed plunged since the announcement, which is affecting Edmontonians who rely on remittances or pension payments from Iran, said Behrouz Khani, an Iranian-Canadian in Edmonton.
“It makes it harder for people who are living here,” Khani said.
He added that there are several Canadian citizens of Iranian descent who rely on family in Iran for their retirement income, too.
“They transfer their retirement money from Iran to here every month, or once in while, and now they have lots of issues because the rate goes up,” said Khani.
There are 5,000 to 6,000 people with either Iranian or Iranian-Canadian citizenship in Edmonton, according to Parseyan.
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the Iran nuclear deal wasn’t perfect but it helped prevent the country from developing a nuclear weapon.
Trudeau also stressed that Canada is firmly aligned with most countries in supporting the deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JPCOA).
“We know that standing firmly in support of the JPCOA with our NATO allies and others is extremely important,” Trudeau said. “We regret the decision by the United States to pull out, but we are still hopeful we are going to be able to keep Iran from developing nuclear weapons.”
Six countries negotiated the deal, including the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council — the U.S., Britain, France, China and Russia — as well as Germany.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the decision underscores the need for Europe to take increasing responsibility for peace and security, similar to the message she delivered after Trump’s debut at last year’s G7 summit.
Parseyan said it is the Iranian people who lose the most.
“They don’t understand why the average Joe has to suffer because of conflicts between two nations,” Parseyan said.