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Latest updates on plane crash that killed 63 Canadians

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The latest on the Ukrainian plane crash that killed 176 people, including 63 Canadians, in Iran (all times Eastern):

2:45 p.m.

The University of Toronto says “several” of its students are among the 176 dead in the plane crash in Iran.

It did not provide details about how many of its students died.

It says all three of U of T’s campuses will fly their flags at half-mast as the university mourns.

2:15 p.m.

The University of Guelph now says it does not have confirmation that a student’s partner was on the plane that crashed in Iran.

The school was walking back an earlier statement suggesting a PhD student was on board with her partner.

It says two PhD students died in the crash that killed all 176 on board the flight bound for Ukraine.

2:05 p.m.

Carleton University says a PhD student and an alumnus of the school are among the dead in the Tehran-area plane crash.

The school says Fareed Arasteh was studying biology.

A family member confirms he was just married in Iran on Sunday and was on his way back to Canada to continue his studies.

Carleton says alumnus Mansour Pourjam is also among those killed.

2:00 p.m.

One of Canada’s largest banks confirmed one of its employees died in the Iranian crash alongside two other members of her family.

CIBC says Evin Arsalan, her husband Hiva and her child all died in the crash.

A list of passengers on board the flight show a passenger named Hiva Molani accompanied by a one-year-old listed as Kurdia Molani. A Facebook page for Evin Arsalani shows she is married to Hiva Molani.

1:40 p.m.

The Iranian military is disputing any suggestion that the Ukrainian airliner that crashed on the outskirts of Tehran was brought down by a missile.

Meantime, a spokesman for Iran’s Road and Transportation Ministry says the pilot lost control after fire erupted in one of the plane’s engines.

He didn’t explain how he was able to confirm that information.

1:35 p.m.

A dental office in Aurora, Ont., says one of its dentists and her daughter died in the plane crash in Iran.

E & E Dentistry says Parisa Eghbalian was travelling with her daughter Reera Esmaeilion when the plane went down early Wednesday morning local time, killing all 176 aboard.

The company says Eghbalian’s husband Hamed Esmaeilion also works there, but was not travelling with his wife and child.

The company website says Eghbalian first immigrated to Canada in 2010 and lived with her husband and daughter in Richmond Hill, Ont.

1:30 p.m.

The University of Alberta says “several” of its students died in the Tehran-area plane crash that claimed 176 lives.

University president and vice-chancellor David Turpin did not confirm how many students are among the dead.

But he says in a statement their deaths are a devastating loss for the school’s interconnected community.

1:10 p.m.

Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne says that while preliminary reports suggest 63 Canadians were killed in the plane crash in Iran, the number may change as they learn about dual citizens.

He describes the situation as “extremely fluid.”

Champagne is urging those whose loved ones may have been aboard the flight to get in touch with Global Affairs.

1 p.m.

The union representing Ontario’s high school teachers says one of its employees was on a plane crashed near Iran’s capital, killing all 176 people aboard.

The Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation says Alina Tarbhai worked at the union’s provincial office in Toronto, but offered no other details about what took her to Iran.

The union says she was respected and well-liked by all.

12:45 p.m.

Western University says four of its students are among the 176 people dead in a plane crash near Tehran.

The university in London, Ont., says three of the victims were graduate students, while the other was an incoming grad student.

Meantime, the York Region District School Board near Toronto says it’s aware of multiple students who died in the crash, but did not provide further details.

12:10 p.m.

The mayor of Edmonton says numerous city residents were among those killed in a plane crash near Tehran this morning.

Don Iveson says he’s devastated by news of the crash, which claimed the lives of 176 people, including 63 Canadians.

He says the City of Edmonton is in mourning.

12 p.m.

The University of Guelph in southern Ontario says two PhD students, as well as the partner of one of the students, were among the 176 who died in a plane crash near the Iranian capital of Tehran.

The two students were studying in the departments of geography and marketing.

The University of Waterloo also says two PhD students’ names were on a list of passengers provided by the airline, but did not confirm whether they made it onto the plane.

11:40 a.m.

Federal Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer has released a statement on the plane crash that claimed the lives of 176 people in Tehran, including 63 Canadians.

Scheer says it’s a sad day for Canada, and his thoughts are with the families and friends of the victims.

Some of those killed on the Ukrainian International Airlines plane were university students headed to Canada for their studies.

10:30 a.m.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is offering his condolences to those who lost their loved ones in a plane crash near Tehran that claimed the lives of 176 people, including 63 Canadians.

He says Canada joins with the other countries grieving, and will ensure that the crash is properly investigated.

The Kyiv-bound plane crashed minutes after takeoff at Tehran’s airport on Wednesday morning.

9:30 a.m.

Transport Minister Marc Garneau says Canada has offered to help investigate a plane crash in Iran that killed 176 people aboard, including 63 Canadians.

He says his Canada is offering technical assistance to the upcoming crash investigation.

Ukrainian authorities have also offered to help probe what happened to the Kyiv-bound plane.

8:45 a.m.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is sending his love to the friends and families of the 176 people killed in a plane crash in Iran, including 63 Canadians.

He says the victims’ loved ones deserve clear answers about what caused the crash.

The plane went down just minutes after taking off from Tehran’s airport on Wednesday morning.

8 a.m.

Ukranian International Airlines has released a list of the passengers on a plane that crashed in Iran, killing all 176 people aboard.

The list includes years of birth, but not nationalities.

The youngest person listed was born in 2016, while the oldest was born in 1950.

7:40 a.m.

Canadian Foreign Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne has tweeted about the deadly plane crash in Iran, which killed 176 people, including 63 Canadians.

“Our hearts are with the loved ones of the victims, including many Canadians,” he wrote.

“I have been in touch with the government of Ukraine. We will continue to keep Canadians informed as the situation evolves.”

7:30 a.m.

Boeing has issued a statement expressing sympathy for the casualties of a plane crash in Tehran and their families, calling it a “tragic event.”

Iranian officials have said they suspect a mechanical issue brought down the 3 1/2-year-old Boeing 737-800 aircraft.

“We are in contact with our airline customer and stand by them in this difficult time,” Boeing said. “We are ready to assist in any way needed.

7:15 a.m.

Global Affairs Canada is warning against any non-essential travel to Iran “due to the volatile security situation, the regional threat of terrorism and the risk of arbitrary detention.”

The agency said Canadians, particularly those holding dual Canadian-Iranian citizenship, were at risk of being arbitrarily questioned, arrested and detained.

“Iran does not recognize dual nationality and Canada will not be granted consular access to dual Canadian-Iranian citizens,” Global Affairs said. “Canadian-Iranian dual citizens should carefully consider the risks of travelling to Iran.

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Canadians, other foreigners will need COVID-19 test a day before flights to U.S. – CBC.ca

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The United States is making it mandatory next week for Canadians and other foreign visitors who arrive by air to get a COVID-19 test within 24 hours of their departure, regardless of their vaccination status, as part of a pandemic battle plan for the winter months.

U.S. President Joe Biden announced his administration’s plan on Thursday during a visit to the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md.

The new travel rule on obtaining a negative COVID-19 test will take effect on Monday at 12:01 a.m. ET, sources briefed on the matter said.

Currently, international air travellers are required to get a test within 72 hours of leaving for the U.S. A senior White House official who spoke on condition of anonymity told CBC News that the new protocol will not apply to those crossing the Canada-U.S. land border.

“We’re pulling out all the stops to get people maximum protection from this pandemic,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told a briefing on Thursday in advance of Biden’s afternoon announcement.

Passengers arrive at John F. Kennedy International Airport In New York City on Nov. 8. By early next week, Canadians and all other foreign visitors who travel to the U.S. by air will need to get a COVID-19 test no later than 24 hours before their departure. (Eduardo Munoz/Reuters)

“Our view and belief, and the belief of our medical team, is that we have the tools to keep people safe. We’re executing on a robust plan that builds off of all the actions we’ve taken to date — we are not starting from scratch here.”

Fully vaccinated travellers entering the U.S. by land from Canada currently do not need to present a negative COVID-19 test, as long as they show proof of vaccination or attest to their vaccination status upon request by a border agent. That rule has been in place since the land border reopened to non-essential travel on Nov. 8.

In Canada, all those entering the country must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 molecular test result, taken within 72 hours of arrival by land or air.

However, since Nov. 30, the rule has been adjusted for Canadians who depart and re-enter Canada within 72 hours, meaning those taking trips of that duration or shorter no longer need proof of a negative COVID-19 test to return home.

WATCH | Travel Insurance, trip planning and the omicron variant: 

Travel Insurance, trip planning and the omicron variant

Travel insurance consultant Martin Firestone lays out what travellers should know about the latest travel restrictions. 4:48

Under the U.S. plan to combat the spread of COVID-19 over the winter months, the Transportation Security Administration is extending its mask mandates on transit through March 18. Passengers on domestic flights, trains and public transportation will be required to continue wearing face masks.

Other components of the 10-point U.S. strategy include:

  • A plan to expand access to booster shots, with a comprehensive outreach effort to convince nearly 100 million eligible Americans to get one.
  • New family vaccination clinics to provide a one-stop vaccination stop for entire households.
  • Accelerating the effort to safely vaccinate children under the age of five.
  • Expanding the availability of at-home test kits.
  • Rapid response teams to help with widespread omicron outbreaks.
  • Another 200 million COVID-19 vaccine doses donated internationally within the next 100 days.

Biden’s speech outlining the plan comes a day after the U.S. confirmed its first case of the omicron variant of the coronavirus in a traveller who arrived in San Francisco from South Africa on Nov. 22.

The new variant is “cause for concern but not panic,” Biden said.

More omicron cases reported

U.S. health officials confirmed a second case of the variant on Thursday in Minnesota. It involved a vaccinated man who had attended an anime convention just before Thanksgiving in New York City that drew an estimated 50,000 people. That would suggest the variant has begun to spread within the U.S.

In addition to the convention attendee, health officials in New York said tests showed five other people in the city recently infected with COVID-19 had the variant.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the geographic spread of the positive tests suggested the variant was undergoing “community spread” in the city and wasn’t linked to any one event.

Another U.S. case of the variant was reported Thursday in a Colorado woman who had recently travelled to southern Africa.

COVID-19 cases and deaths in the U.S. have dropped by about half since the delta variant peak in August and September, but at about 86,000 new infections per day, the numbers are still worrisomely high — especially heading into the holidays, when people travel and gather with family.

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U.S. to not reimburse private health insurers for covering at-home COVID test costs

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The U.S. government will not reimburse private health insurance companies for covering the cost of at-home COVID-19 tests, a White House official said on Thursday.

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act require coverage of diagnostic testing for COVID-19 without any cost-sharing requirements during the public health emergency,” the White House official said.

“The Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor and the Treasury will clarify that coverage of over-the-counter COVID-19 tests is generally subject to those provisions”, the official added.

 

(Reporting by Jeff Mason, writing by Kanishka Singh)

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Oil up on OPEC+ plan to meet ahead of schedule if Omicron dents demand

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Oil prices climbed on Friday, extending gains after OPEC+ said it would review supply additions ahead of its next scheduled meeting if the Omicron variant hits demand, but prices were still on course for a sixth week of declines.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures rose 27 cents, or 0.4%, to $66.77 a barrel at 0122 GMT, adding to a 1.4% gain on Thursday.

Brent crude futures rose 12 cents, or 0.2%, to $69.79 a barrel, after climbing 1.2% in the previous session.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, Russia and allies, together called OPEC+, surprised the market on Thursday when it stuck to plans to add 400,000 barrels per day (bpd) supply in January.

However the producers left the door open to changing policy swiftly if demand suffered from measures to contain the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant. They said they could meet again before their next scheduled meeting on Jan. 4, if needed.

That boosted prices with “traders reluctant to bet against the group eventually pausing its production increases,” ANZ Research analysts said in a note.

Wood Mackenzie analyst Ann-Louise Hittle said it made sense for OPEC+ to stick with their policy for now, given it was still unclear whether Omicron could resist existing vaccines.

“The group’s members are in regular contact and are monitoring the market situation closely,” Hittle said in emailed comments.

“As a result, they can react swiftly when we start to get a better sense of the scale of the impact the Omicron variant of COVID-19 could have on the global economy and demand.”

The market has been roiled all week by the emergence of Omicron and speculation that it could spark new lockdowns, dent fuel demand and spur OPEC+ to put its output increases on hold.

Brent was poised to end the week down about 4%, while WTI was on track for a 2% drop on the week, both down for a sixth straight week.

 

(Reporting by Sonali Paul; editing by Richard Pullin)

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