Early Wednesday morning, a passenger jet heading to Ukraine from Iran crashed minutes after taking off in the Iranian capital of Tehran, killing 176 people on board, including 63 Canadians and several people with connections to Canada, according to Ukrainian officials and friends of the victims.
Ukrainian International Airlines has released a list of the passengers on board the plane, which was headed to the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv.
The airline said most passengers were transiting through Kyiv to other destinations. The airline offers an inexpensive connecting flight from Kyiv to Toronto’s Pearson International Airport.
In a flood of tributes posted to social media, friends of some listed passengers identified them as university students, professors and professionals returning to Canada after the winter break.
Neda Sadighi, GTA
A clerk at a Richmond Hill eye clinic confirmed that optometrist Dr. Neda Sadighi was on the plane after visiting Tehran for 10 days on vacation. According to the clinic’s website, Sadighi is an eye surgeon who started practising in Tehran before coming to Canada. She’s a member of the College of Optometrists of Ontario, and the Iranian Association of Ophthalmologists.
Suzan Golbabapour, GTA
At a Remax office in Richmond Hill, a realtor said real estate agent Suzan Golbabapour was also a passenger on the plane, after travelling to Iran last month for holidays.
University of Waterloo students Marizeh (Mari) Foroutan and Mansour Esnaashary Esfahani
A spokesperson with the University of Waterloo said they are aware the names of two phD students, Marizeh (Mari) Foroutan and Mansour Esnaashary Esfahani, listed among the dead on the flight.
Foroutan was a student in the university’s geography department, while Esfahani studied civil engineering, the school said.
A friend of Foroutan’s, Jaya Sree Mugunthan, told the Star she was an Iranian international student at the school, calling her an “ambitious person.”
University of Guelph students Milad Ghasemi Ariani and Ghanimat Azdahri; Azhdari’s partner, Hamed Alibeiki
The University of Guelph also confirmed two of its PhD students were passengers: Ghanimat Azhdari, of the Department of Geography, Environment and Geomatics; and Milad Ghasemi Ariani, who was pursuing a PhD in the Department of Marketing and Consumer Studies.
Azhdari’s partner, Hamed Alibeiki, was also killed in the crash, the school said.
University of Guelph associate professor Faisal Moola confirmed in a tweet that Azdahri was one of his PhD students. “Ghanimat was on her way back to @uofg after visiting her family and traditional Indigenous territories in Iran over the December break. The students and I are in so much pain,” he wrote.
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University of Alberta professors Mojgan Daneshmand and Pedram Mousavi, with daughters Daria and Dorina
Masoud Ardakani, the University of Alberta’s associate chair of electrical and computer engineering, confirmed in an email that professors Mojgan Daneshmand and Pedram Mousavi were on the flight, along with their daughters Daria and Dorina.
Nooran Ostadeian, who has known them since 2010 when she helped them find a home as a real estate agent, said the couple was among her closest friends in Edmonton.
“They were like an example of the happiest couple that I’ve ever known in my life,” Ostadeian said. “I want them to be remembered as a symbol of love, community members who did a lot of dedication and contribution to the community. Great teachers for their students.”
Iman Ghaderpanah and Parinaz Ghaderpanah, Toronto
Sam Green, the owner of a GTA real estate agency, said Toronto-based mortgage broker and realtor Iman Ghaderpanah was on the plane travelling with his wife, Parinaz Ghaderpanah, on holiday. “They are just a young couple, and they were building a life together,” Green said. “It’s a tragic situation.”
Parisa Eghbalian and her daughter, GTA
At the Aurora Dentistry, assistant Manija Ghotbi told the Star that owner Parisa Eghbalian had left for vacation last month with her daughter, and that both were on the airplane that crashed. “We’re all devastated,” said Ghotbi, who added Eghbalian’s husband is getting ready to fly to Tehran.
Faezeh Falsafi, GTA
Faezeh Falsafi, a Richmond Hill real estate agent, was travelling back to the GTA from Tehran with her two children, said her colleague Olga Moss.
Falsafi had worked at Homelife Bayview Realty Inc. since 2016, Moss said, calling her an “amazing” and “very hard-working” person.
“She’s gone with her two kids,” said Moss. “It’s just gut wrenching.”