Wedding party and academics among Canadian plane crash victims in Iran

1 / 2
University of Alberta professors Mojgan Daneshmand and Pedram Mousavi, pose in an undated family photo in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Handout via Reuters)
2 / 2
A relative of one of the flight crew members of the Ukrainian 737-800 plane that crashed on the outskirts of Tehran, kisses a portrait of her at a memorial inside Borispil international airport outside Kyiv, Ukraine, on Wednesday. (AP)
Short Url
Updated 08 January 2020

Wedding party and academics among Canadian plane crash victims in Iran

  • All 176 people on board the Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737 were killed when the plane crashed shortly after takeof
  • Graduate students Arash Pourzarabi, 26, and Pouneh Gourji, 25, had gone to Iran for their wedding

EDMONTON, Alberta: A newlywed couple that had traveled to Iran to get married were among the 63 Canadians killed when their Ukrainian Airlines flight crashed early on Wednesday, according to a community leader in the western Canadian city where 30 victims came from.
All 176 people on board the Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737 were killed when the plane crashed shortly after takeoff from Tehran. It had been heading for the Ukrainian capital Kiev.
Arash Pourzarabi, 26, and Pouneh Gourji, 25, who were graduate students in computer science at the University of Alberta, had gone to Iran for their wedding, said Reza Akbari, president of the Iranian Heritage Society of Edmonton.
They were on the plane with four members of their wedding party and another 24 Iranian-Canadians from Edmonton, Akbari said.
"Oh God, I can’t believe this," Akbari told Reuters. "It’s shocking to the whole community."




A relative of one of the flight crew members of the Ukrainian 737-800 plane that crashed on the outskirts of Tehran, kisses a portrait of her at a memorial inside Borispil international airport outside Kyiv, Ukraine, on Wednesday. (AP)


Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Wednesday that the government would reach out to international partners to ensure the crash is thoroughly investigated "and that Canadians' questions are answered."
Trudeau will hold a news conference on the crash later on Wednesday, his spokeswoman said.
The flight was a popular transit route for Canadians traveling to Iran, in the absence of direct flights, and carried many students and academics heading home from the holidays. Canada broke off diplomatic relations with Iran in 2012.
"I've had family take the Tehran-to-Toronto route via Kiev in the past year. It's been a new, affordable route for many Iranian-Canadians," Mahsa Alimardani, a student at Britain's Oxford University, said on Twitter.
Among the victims was Mojgan Daneshmand, a professor of electrical engineering at the University of Alberta, "a brilliant, brilliant lady, very smart," the Heritage Society's Akbari said.




University of Alberta professors Mojgan Daneshmand and Pedram Mousavi, pose in an undated family photo in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Handout via Reuters)

Her husband, Pedram Mousavi, a professor of mechanical engineering at the same college, and the couple's two daughters, also died in the crash.
The University of Alberta declined immediate comment.
Mousavi was "like a father," student Hossein Saghlatoon told Reuters.
The pair had traveled to Iran with daughters Daria and Dorina, aged 14 and 10, to visit elderly parents, Saghlatoon said.
"Everyone has been crying since last night. It's a huge loss and the void is not going to be filled by anyone or anything," Saghlatoon said.
Canadian Foreign Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said he had been in touch with the government of Ukraine.
"Our hearts are with the loved ones of the victims, including many Canadians," he wrote on Twitter.
The disaster was the largest recent loss of life among Canadians since an Air India flight blew up in 1985 over the Atlantic Ocean, killing 268 Canadians.
According to a 2016 census, around 210,000 of Canada's 38 million inhabitants are of Iranian descent.

UK victims

The three British nationals who died in the crash were named as Mohammed Reza Kadkhoda Zadeh, who owned a dry cleaners, BP engineer Sam Zokaei and engineer Saeed Tahmasebi who worked for Laing O'Rouke..

The British government said the UK was "working closely with the Ukrainian authorities and the Iranian authorities" over the crash, and there was "no indication" the plane was brought down by a missile.


Turkish shelling kills 9 regime personnel in NW Syria: monitor

Updated 25 February 2020

Turkish shelling kills 9 regime personnel in NW Syria: monitor

  • UN says it was trying to double aid deliveries across a border crossing from Turkey from 50 to 100 trucks a day.
  • Idlib has seen hundreds of thousands of people flee the violence

BEIRUT: Turkish shelling Monday killed nine regime fighters in northwest Syria, where Ankara-backed rebels are fighting off advancing regime forces, a monitor said.
Syrian regime forces have since December clawed back parts of the last major opposition bastion of Idlib in violence that has displaced almost a million people.
Fighting raged on Monday, killing almost 100 fighters on both sides around the jihadist-dominated bastion, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor said.
Those included 41 pro-regime fighters, as well as 53 jihadists and allied rebels.
Overall on Monday, the regime advanced rapidly in the south of the bastion, but lost the town of Nayrab along the M4 highway to Turkish-backed rebels in the southeast.
Turkish shelling in that area killed four regime fighters near Nayrab and another five near the town of Saraqeb to its east, the Britain-based Observatory said.
Opposition fighters had already broken back into Nayrab last week after the regime seized it at the start of the month, but then lost it again several hours later.
Saraqeb, which lies at the intersection of the M4 and another important highway the M5, has been under regime control since February 8.
Earlier Monday, Russian air strikes killed five civilians in the Jabal Al-Zawiya area in the south of the bastion, the Observatory said.
In fighting on the ground, regime forces seized 10 towns and villages south of the M4, which links the coastal regime stronghold of Latakia to government-held second city Aleppo, it said.
State news agency SANA, for its part, said “units of the Syrian army continued to progress in the south of Idlib” province.
Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman said the regime’s aim was to wrest back control of stretches of the M4 still under the control of jihadists and allied rebels.
That would require operations against the towns of Ariha and Jisr Al-Shughur, both along the M4.
Analysts expect a tough battle for Jisr Al-Shughur, held by the jihadist Turkistan Islamic Party whose fighters mainly hail from China’s Uighur Muslim minority.
They are allied to Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham, a group led by Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate which dominates the Idlib region.
Loyalist forces have already taken back control of the M5, which connects the capital with Aleppo.
They have also secured the region around the northern city, a major pre-war industrial hub.
Fighting in northwest Syria since December has forced some 900,000 people to flee their homes and shelters amid bitter cold.
The United Nations said Monday that the latest fighting was coming “dangerously close” to encampments of the displaced, risking an imminent “bloodbath.”
Mark Cutts, a UN humanitarian coordinator, also told reporters in Geneva that the world body was trying to double aid deliveries across a border crossing with Turkey from 50 to 100 trucks a day.
Syria’s war has killed more than 380,000 people and displaced millions since starting in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-government protests.