Ukrainian aviation authorities initially pointed to engine failure as the cause but later backtracked, saying the investigation was ongoing and that nothing had been ruled out.
The airline released a list of passengers and crew on board the plane following the tragedy. While it includes each person’s birth year, it does not indicate nationality.
Here is what we know about the victims who lived in Canada so far.
The ICCA Consortium confirmed Ghanimat Azhdari was on the plane when it crashed. Azhdari started her PhD at the University of Guelph this past September.
“We are in utter disbelief and heartbroken at the sudden loss of such a beautiful young life — a true force of nature,” officials from the ICCA Consortium said in a statement on their website.
“She was a dear friend to all of us and will be deeply missed.”
The statement says she was a geographic information specialist and had recently represented the consortium in a “series of UN Convention on Biological Diversity meetings in Montreal.”
“She was always smiling, wherever she went, and generously shared her experience, knowledge and powerful energy. A strong activist and advocate for the global Indigenous Peoples’ movement, this is not only a loss for our ICCA Consortium family but also for many communities, organizations and movements worldwide,” the statement reads.
Milad Ghasemi Ariani
A second University of Guelph student has also been identified as a passenger on the plane by the school. Milad Ghasemi Ariani was in a marketing and consumer studies program.
An Iranian international student who was studying at Langara College, Delaram Dadashnejad, was also identified as a victim in the crash.
Her ID that stated she was from B.C. was found at the crash site, according to Iranian state media.
In a statement, the college’s president and CEO Dr. Lane Trotter said Dadashnejad was taking university transfer classes and was flying back to Vancouver after visiting family in Tehran.
“The loss of one of our students is one that impacts our entire community,” Trotter said. “We are heartbroken over the fatal tragedy that took place; our thoughts and prayers are with those in mourning from this incident.”
Masoumeh and Mandieh Ghavi
Nova Scotia resident Masoumeh Ghavi was studying engineering at Dalhousie University. She was travelling back to Canada alongside her sister, Mandieh Ghavi, who was also killed, according to the Dalhousie Iranian Student Society. The pair was in Iran to visit family over the holidays.
Ardalan Ebnoddin Hamidi, Niloufar Khamsi Razzaghi, Kamyar Ebnoddin Hamidi
Three members of a B.C. family were confirmed to be among those killed in the Tehran plane crash.
Ardalan Ebnoddin Hamidi and Niloufar Razzaghi, a husband and wife who lived in Vancouver with their teenage son, Kamyar Ebnoddin Hamidi, were killed on their way home after a holiday, according to family friends.
Kei Esmaeilpour, a friend and head of the Civic Association of Iranian Canadians, confirmed their deaths in a statement.
“Canadian society and Iranian community lost one of the best families,” Esmaeilpour said. “Ardalan Ebnoddin-Hamidi and his family was one of the most responsible Iranian-Canadian citizens. I extend my condolences to the community and to his family in Canada and in Iran.”
Parisa Eghbalian and Reera Esmaeilion
Parisa Eghbalian and her daughter, nine-year-old Reera Esmaeilion, were both on board the Ukranian flight. Eghbalian was a dentist and co-owner of Aurora Dentistry in Ontario. She owned the practice alongside her husband.
Employees tell Global News they’ve been fielding calls all day from patients wishing to express shock and condolence to the family. The workers said they were devastated at the news of their deaths and that Eghbalian’s husband, Hamed Esmaeilion, was packing to go to Tehran.
The pair were on holiday in Iran for the past two weeks for Eghbalian’s sister’s engagement party.
Her husband described his grief on Facebook.
“Among the three of us, there is so much romance that will stay with me until I die,” he wrote.
Bahareh Haj Esfandiari, Anisa Sadeghi and Mehdi Sadeghi
Three members of a Winnipeg family are among the dead. Bahareh Haj Esfandiari, 41, Anisa Sadeghi, 10, and Mehdi Sadeghi, 43, were confirmed as victims of the plane crash by Welcome Place, where Esfandiari worked.
“We are deeply saddened to have learned a recent former employee was on the flight with her husband and daughter travelling back home to Canada after the holidays,” a Facebook post by the company reads.
A former PhD student at the University of Manitoba, Forough Khadem was confirmed as one of the victims by her colleagues. Khadem worked in immunology and with CancerCare Manitoba.
Evin Arsalani, Hiva Molani and Kurdia Molani
A family of three from Ajax, Ont., are among the victims.
Toronto resident Omid Arsalani told Global News that it was around 3 a.m. Wednesday when he learned that his sister, Evin Arsalani, 30, her husband, Hiva Molani, 38, and their one-year-old daughter Kurdia had been killed. The family was on their way home to Ajax, Ont. – about an hour outside Toronto – from Iran where they had attended a wedding on Dec. 8
“I just wish that I could wake up and that it would be a dream,” Arsalani said. “My sister was my best friend.”
Arsalani first learned about the crash when his older brother knocked on his door and told him his sister was on the flight.
“I opened the door and I had no idea what was going on,” he said. “I asked him are they okay are they alive? What’s going on?”
“He said ‘every soul on the plane is dead. Not one person made it.’”
Arsalani said the last time he spoke with his sister was Jan. 2 on her 30th birthday.
“The whole time we talked we cracked jokes, had a good time as she celebrated her birthday,” he said. “The last message I got from her was: only a brother can you like a father, bother you like a sister, and a brother can care for you like a mother. It was the last thing I got from her.”
Iman Ghaderpanah and Parinaz Ghaderpanah
Global News has confirmed that married couple Iman Ghaderpanah, a mortgage specialist, and Parinaz Ghaderpanah, an RBC employee, are among the residents from the Greater Toronto area who died in the crash.
The couple volunteered regularly in Tirgan, an Iranian-Canadian non-profit that celebrates arts and culture, according to Mehrdad Ariannejad, who is on the board of directors.
“They were working very closely with us and we knew them personally,” Ariannejad told Global News. “They were really lovely, great people … Parinaz was an energetic person, a very positive person.”
Iman Ghaderpanah who worked with Mortgage Alliance in Toronto is remembered as a “well respected and friendly” colleague.
“It’s really sad news, very shocking,” Yasmine Soliman, director of communications at Mortgage Alliance, told Global News. “He was really well liked.”
RBC, where Parinaz worked as a branch manager, said it was deeply saddened to learn she and her husband were on the flight.
“Our thoughts are with all the victims and their families,” said Gillian McArdle, a spokesperson for RBC. “Our immediate focus is on supporting Ms. Ghaderpanah’s family and our colleagues and clients who worked with her.
Dr. Razgar Rahimi, an engineering instructor at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, died in the crash, the university announced Wednesday afternoon.
Rahimi died “along with his family,” the university said, but did not offer further details.
After getting engineering degrees from two universities in Iran, Rahimi got a PhD in electrical engineering from Oshawa, Ont.-based UOIT in 2018, according to his Linkedin profile. He taught electrical engineering, circuit design and introductory electronics.
Rahimi was born in 1981, a passenger list released by Ukraine International Airlines said. He would have been about 39.
Naser Pourshabanoshibi and Firouzeh Madani
Naser Pourshabanoshibi and Firouzeh Madani were also killed in the crash, according to family and friends who spoke to Global News.
Both lived in North Vancouver and had worked as doctors.
Mohammad Hossein (Daniel) Saket and Fatemeh (Faye) Kazerani
North Vancouver couple Mohammad Hossein Saket and Fatemeh Kazerani were also confirmed dead by family, as well as a local business owner.
Saket worked as an engineer and Kazerani worked as a hygienist, a cousin related to one of them told Global News.
Arvin Morattab and Aida Farzaneh
A Montreal-based couple was identified by a friend as victims of the plane crash.
Arvin Morattab and Aida Farzaneh had both recently graduated from a PhD program at École de technologie supérieure. Farzaneh was a lecturer in the engineering department at the school.
“I can’t imagine that I have to use past tense when I’m talking about them,” said their friend, Aria Isapor.
Siavash Ghafouri-Azar and Sara Mamani
Siavash Ghafouri-Azar and Sara Mamani, of Montreal, had recently married before their plane went down in Iran. According to social media, Ghafouri-Azar was a performance specialist at Pratt and Whitney Canada. Mamani worked for Bombardier.
Both studied at Concordia University, their LinkedIn pages show.
A civil engineering student at the University of Windsor, Pedram Jadidi had big dreams, according to a friend. He was born in Iran and travelled back over the Christmas holiday to visit family. His friend and classmate said he was returning to Canada to begin a new semester.
“Pedram had so many wishes,” his friend, Javad Sadeghi told Global News. “He lost his father just before he came to Canada. He had only his mother.”
He said Jadidi chose to fly with the Ukrainian airline because it was affordable and he was tight on cash, as he was supporting his mother back home.
Another friend, Faraz Talebpour, said he was supposed to be on the same flight but changed his ticket. He said he was supposed to room with Jadidi at some point, but plans fell through.
Hamidreza Setare and Samira Bashiri
Born in Iran, Hamidreza Setare was living in Windsor where he was a PhD student in mechanical engineering at the University of Windsor.
Setare and Samira Bashiri were married, according to a friend. Bashiri was also a student at the school, studying for a masters in medical biotechnology.
“Hamidreza was a very ambitious person,” said his friend, Javad Sadeghi. “He had plans to be a faculty member. He did his masters at Sharif University of Technology, the best university in Iran.”
Images of Setare provided by Sadeghi show the two posing on a field with a soccer ball and cleats.
Another friend and classmate, Faraz Talebpour, described the pair as “a lovely couple.”
Zahra Naghibi was an Iranian-born PhD candidate and research assistant at the University of Windsor’s Turbulence and Energy Lab, according to lab director David S.K. Ting.
She was also an active student leader who served as co-chair of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers’ Young Professionals Affinity Group, according to IEEE co-chair Faraz Talebpour.
“She was so kind to everyone else. She was just the definition of positivity,” Talebpour told Global News from Iran. He says Naghibi was among five people he knew on the flight, and he would have been on it too if he hadn’t altered his travel plans.
Talebpour described Naghibi as an incredible scientist, engineer, leader and person.
“She was one of the kindest, good-hearted people that I got to know,” he said.
Arash Pourzarabi and Pooneh Gorji
Arash Pourzarabi and his new wife, Pooneh Gorji, were both computer science researchers at the University of Alberta.
They had their wedding in Iran and were returning to Edmonton to continue their studies, Akbari confirmed.
Amir Hossein Saeedinia
Amir Hossein Saeedinia, born in 1994, was a new PhD student at the University of Alberta’s Centre for Design of Advanced Materials. An advisor confirmed to Global News that Saeedinia was set to arrive in Edmonton to begin his studies this week and that he was a passenger on the flight.
Mohammad and Zeynab Asadi Lari
Twenty-three year old Mohammad Asadi Lari and his 21-year-old sister Zeynab Asadi Lari were on the plane as well, friends of the siblings told Global News.
The pair were from Vancouver, and had left the University of British Columbia to study in Toronto. Zeynab was finishing her bachelor of sciences, while her brother had earned his medical degree.
Another friend, Saman Arfaie, wrote on Facebook that Mohammad was “one of my dearest and closest friends.”
“It has been a tragedy that words would not be able to describe, nor do justice, to the magnitude and scope of it,” Arfaie wrote. “We lost some remarkable people today. Their lives and hopes cut short too soon.”
The death of Fareed Arasteh was confirmed by Carleton University, where he was a PhD student in biology.
According to his LinkedIn profile, Arasteh was expected to complete his PhD in molecular genetics in 2023. He had previously worked and studied in Tehran.
Carleton University also confirmed the death of Mansour Pourjam, who was a biology alumnus.
Iman Aghabali is believed to be dead, McMaster University said in a press release. Aghabali was a graduate student at the university in Hamilton, Ont. in the Faculty of Engineering.
According to a profile posted on the university’s website, Aghabali previously studied at Sharif University of Technology in Tehran.
The McMaster University press release also said that another PhD student, named Mehdi Eshaghian, is believed to be dead.
Eshaghian studied in Tehran before coming to Canada and joining McMaster in September 2018.
Amirhossien Ghasemi, 32, was a grad student of biomedical engineering the University of Manitoba and a doctor.
Amir Shirzadi, a board member with the Manitoba Iranian Student Association, said his good friend Ghasemi was on his way back to Winnipeg after visiting family in Iran.
“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.”
— With files from Maham Abedi, Rebecca Joseph, Andrew Russell, Patrick Cain, Caryn Lieberman, Josh Elliott, Kevin Nielsen
Canada no longer advising against non-essential travel, first time since March 2020 – CTV News
The Canadian government has quietly lifted its advisory against non-essential international travel, marking the first time since March 2020 that the notice has been lifted.
A travel notice on the Government of Canada website had been advising travellers against all non-essential international travel, but is now replaced with a notice urging all travellers to be fully vaccinated before a trip.
“Be aware that although you are better protected against serious illness if you are vaccinated, you may still be at risk of infection from the virus that causes COVID-19,” the updated advisory states.
“If you’re unvaccinated, you remain at increased risk of being infected with and spreading the virus that causes COVID-19 when travelling internationally. You should continue avoiding non-essential travel to all destinations.”
The updated notice also urges travellers to keep up-to-date on the COVID-19 situation in their destination, to follow the local public health measures and follow the traditional measures, such as wearing a mask, hand washing and physical distancing.
“The Government of Canada will continue to assess available data and indicators—including the vaccination rate of Canadians, the border test positivity rate, and the epidemiological situation globally and in Canada―and adjust advice as needed,” a spokesperson for Health Canada said in an emailed statement to CTVNews.ca.
While the government is no longer advising against international travel, it is still urging against international cruises.
Biden says United States would come to Taiwan’s defense
The United States would come to Taiwan‘s defense and has a commitment to defend the island China claims as its own, U.S. President Joe Biden said on Thursday, though the White House said later there was no change in policy towards the island.
“Yes, we have a commitment to do that,” Biden said at a CNN town hall when asked if the United States would come to the defense of Taiwan, which has complained of mounting military and political pressure from Beijing to accept Chinese sovereignty.
While Washington is required by law to provide Taiwan with the means to defend itself, it has long followed a policy of “strategic ambiguity” on whether it would intervene militarily to protect Taiwan in the event of a Chinese attack.
In August, a Biden administration https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/us-position-taiwan-unchanged-despite-biden-comment-official-2021-08-19 official said U.S. policy on Taiwan had not changed after the president appeared to suggest the United States would defend the island if it were attacked.
A White House spokesperson said Biden at his town hall was not announcing any change in U.S. policy and “there is no change in our policy”.
“The U.S. defense relationship with Taiwan is guided by the Taiwan Relations Act. We will uphold our commitment under the Act, we will continue to support Taiwan’s self-defense, and we will continue to oppose any unilateral changes to the status quo,” the spokesperson said.
Biden said people should not worry about Washington’s military strength because “China, Russia and the rest of the world knows we’re the most powerful military in the history of the world,”
“What you do have to worry about is whether or not they’re going to engage in activities that would put them in a position where they may make a serious mistake,” Biden said.
“I don’t want a cold war with China. I just want China to understand that we’re not going to step back, that we’re not going to change any of our views.”
Military tensions between Taiwan and China are at their worst in more than 40 years, Taiwan’s Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng said this month, adding that China will be capable of mounting a “full-scale” invasion by 2025.
Taiwan says it is an independent country and will defend its freedoms and democracy.
China says Taiwan is the most sensitive and important issue in its ties with the United States and has denounced what it calls “collusion” between Washington and Taipei.
Speaking to reporters earlier on Thursday, China’s United Nations Ambassador Zhang Jun said they are pursuing “peaceful reunification” with Taiwan and responding to “separatist attempts” by its ruling Democratic Progressive Party.
“We are not the troublemaker. On the contrary, some countries – the U.S. in particular – is taking dangerous actions, leading the situation in Taiwan Strait into a dangerous direction,” he said.
“I think at this moment what we should call is that the United States to stop such practice. Dragging Taiwan into a war definitely is in nobody’s interest. I don’t see that the United States will gain anything from that.”
(Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt; Additional reporting by David Brunnstrom in Washington, Michelle Nichols in New York and Ben Blanchard in Taipei; Writing by Mohammad Zargham; Editing by Stephen Coates)
Alec Baldwin fires gun on movie set, killing cinematographer, authorities say
Actor Alec Baldwin fired a prop gun on a movie set in New Mexico on Thursday, killing cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and wounding director Joel Souza, authorities said.
The incident occurred on the set of independent feature film “Rust,” the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s office said in a statement.
“The sheriff’s office confirms that two individuals were shot on the set of Rust. Halyna Hutchins, 42, director of photography, and Joel Souza, 48, director, were shot when a prop firearms was discharged by Alec Baldwin, 68, producer and actor,” the police said in a statement.
A Variety report https://bit.ly/3nnyldg said the shooting occurred at the Bonanza Creek Ranch, a production location south of Santa Fe in New Mexico.
No charges have yet been filed in regard to the incident, said the police, adding they are investigating the shooting.
Baldwin’s representatives did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for comment.
(Reporting by Bhargav Acharya in Bengaluru; Editing by Karishma Singh)
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