World mourns victims of Iranian plane crash as investigators continue to determine cause

News provided by the Toronto Star – link to full story and updates

By Evelyn Kwong Toronto Star
The Canadian Press Toronto Star Thu., Jan. 9, 2020

As mourners prepare for more candlelight vigils across Canada on Thursday to grieve the 176 victims of a plane crash on the outskirts of Tehran, more information is coming out on the Canadian victims.

Also on Thursday, Iran released an initial investigative report about the crash, saying the jetliner’s crew were trying to turn back for the airport when the burning plane went down, noting that they never made a radio call for help.

The Boeing 737-800 crashed barely two minutes after takeoff Wednesday morning from Tehran’s airport en route to Kyiv. The majority of the 176 people on board — 138, including 63 Canadians — were headed for Canada.

  • The Toronto District School Board confirmed Thursday that at least five of its students were killed in the crash.

Sophie Emami was in senior kindergarten at Lillian Public School. Arsam Niazi was in Grade 6 at Pleasant Public School and Arnica Niazi was in Grade 3 at Finch Public School. Rahmtin Ahmadi was in Grade 4 at Muirhead Public School. Maya Zibaie was a Grade 10 student at Northern Secondary School.

  • Saharnaz Haghjoo, who worked at the YWCA on Elm Street in Toronto, was also killed along with her daughter, Elsa Jadidi.

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 remembered Haghjoo on Wednesday as “a great supporter of the school,” always making a point to “express her gratitude and appreciation to Elsa’s teachers.”

  • 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:

Ghazal Nourian, a PhD candidate in Mechanial and Materials Engineering, Milad Nahavandi, a PhD candidate in Chemical and Biochemical Engineering, Hadis Hayatdavoudi, a PhD candidate in Chemistry and Sajedeh Sareian, an incoming Masters student in Chemical and Biochemical Engineering.

University president Alan Shepard called the deaths “devastating.”

“It’s just hearbreaking and difficult to comprehend,” Shepard told the Western News. According to the university’s paper, all four were international students.

London mayor Ed Holder was also in attendance.

“My heart breaks for the families, friends, and loved ones of all those lost in this horrible tragedy . . . on behalf of all Londoners, our thoughts and deepest sympathies are with you,” he tweeted Wednesday.

  • 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.