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‘Something very unusual happened’: Trudeau says Canadians ‘deserve’ answer on the fatal Iran plane crash
Elisabetta Bianchini January 8, 2020
On Wednesday, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko confirmed Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752, a Boeing 737-800, crashed on its was from Iran’s capital, Tehran, to Kyiv and there were no survivors.
“Tehran airport is anything but a simple one. Therefore, for several years UIA has been using this airport to conduct training on Boeing 737 aircraft aimed at evaluating pilots’ proficiency and ability to act in emergency cases, Ihor Sosnovsky, Ukraine International Airlines vice president of operations said in a statement.
“According to our records, the aircraft ascended as high as 2400 meters. Given the crew’s experience, error probability is minimal. We do not even consider such a chance.”
Messaging from the Canadian government
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was joined by other government officials for a press conference to discuss the events of the tragic crash. The prime minister said that 138 passengers on the plane were connecting to Canada on PS752.
“I want to express my deepest condolences to all who are mourning a loss of a love one,” Trudeau said.
He also confirmed that the Canadian government will ensure that the crash is thoroughly investigated.
“We’ve had many countries step up to provide their assistance and support,” Trudeau said. “[Minister of Foreign Affairs François-Philippe Champagne] will be engaging directly with his Iranian counterpart…to request a presence from Canada in Tehran and in the investigation.”
Minister of Transport Marc Garneau told the media that the investigation is in the early stages but the crash happened about two minutes after takeoff, which occurred in a “normal fashion” before contact was lost. Garneau said this suggests that “something very unusual happened.”
Trudeau and Garneau both could not confirm the cause of the crash, with the prime minister saying that Canadians “deserve” answers he cannot categorically say that the plane was not shot down.
“It is too early to speculate. I would encourage people not to speculate, we are certainly aware that this is a terrible, terrible tragedy,” Trudeau said.
The transport minister also confirmed that Iran is leading the investigation but Canada has “offered to the Ukrainians all the technical assistance that they may wish.”
“It’s also true that the transportation safety board…is also going to be involved because there were Canadian nationals won this particular flight,” Garneau said. “They have indicated that if it was the desire of the Ukrainian or the Iranians…that Canada would be prepared to assist in terms of black box data interpretation.”
Details about the victims
There were 63 Canadians, 82 Iranians, 11 Ukrainian passengers and crew, 10 Swedes, four Afghans, three Germans and three Britons on board. The airline has released a list of passengers on the flight. More information continues to be revealed about the victims of the fatal crash.
Reuters has reported that 30 Edmontonians were on the plane, including University of Alberta professor Pedram Mousavi, his wife Mojgan Daneshmand and their daughters Daria and Dorina. Dr. Shekoufeh Choupannejad, an obstetrician-gynecologist at the Northgate Centre Medical Clinic in Edmonton, and her two daughters were also killed, according to CBS News.
The University of Guelph released a statement confirming that two students from the school were aboard the plane, Ghanimat Azhdari and Milad Ghasemi Ariani, who was pursuing a PhD in the Department of Marketing and Consumer Studies.
“We are deeply saddened to hear of the tragic loss of two of our students,” University of Guelph president Franco Vaccarino said in a statement. “Our thoughts go out to the families of these two students and to anyone else affected by this tragedy. Any loss to our campus community touches all of us.”
What we know so far
The crash follows increased tensions in Iran following the killing of Iranian military leader Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani by the U.S. last week.
Global Affairs Canada has alerted all Canadians to avoid all non-essential travel to Iran “due to the volatile security situation, the regional threat of terrorism and the risk of arbitrary detention.”
“Canadians, particularly dual Canadian-Iranian citizens, are at risk of being arbitrarily questioned, arrested and detained,” the advisory from the government agency reads. “Iran does not recognize dual nationality and Canada will not be granted consular access to dual Canadian-Iranian citizens.”
Reuters is reporting that a Canadian security source said the initial assessment of Western intelligence agencies is that the plane was not brought down by a missile. It is believe that the plane crash was caused by a technical malfunction.