UK markets closed

57 Canadians dead in Iran plane crash: Young families, educators and students returning home

Bryan Meler
Associate Editor, Yahoo News Canada

A plane crash on Wednesday near the Tehran airport has resulted in the death of all 176 passengers and crew members, which includes 57 Canadians.

Following the crash, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced in a press briefing that 138 of the passengers on the flight were bound for Canada. A list of the passengers on Flight PS752 has been released, along with their birth years, but Canadian officials have yet to confirm all the identities.

Friends and family of the deceased have helped identify some of the victims who were on board the Boeing 737-800 aircraft that was headed to Kyiv. The event happened shortly after Iran launched a ballistic missile attack on Iraqi bases with U.S. troops.

The crash was first suspected to be the result of a mechanical issue, but Iran's Revolutionary Guard acknowledged on Saturday that the plane was accidentally shot down by one of its missiles.

Family of four from Edmonton

Family of four from Edmonton the casualties. Courtesy: CBC

Pedram Mousavi and Mojgan Daneshmand, a married couple who were also University of Alberta professors, were tragically killed alongside their daughters, Daria and Dorina. Their identities were confirmed to CBC by Masoud Ardakani, an associate chair at the university. Both children were younger than 16 years old.

According to their university bios, both professors received their bachelor degrees at the Iran University of Science and Technology, before earning their master and PhD degrees in Canada.

Two students from the University of Waterloo

Mansour Esnaashary Esfahani and Marzieh (Mari) Foroutan (left to right) Credit: LinkedIn/University of Waterloo

The University of Waterloo confirmed that Marzieh (Mari) Foroutan and Mansour Esnaashary Esfahani, two of PhD students, were among the victims.

Foroutan, born in 1982, was an Iranian international student at the university, according to her friend Jaya Sree Mugunthan, who spoke to the Toronto Star. According to her profile page on the university's website, Foroutan received her bachelor’s degree in Iran, then a master’s in both Iran and Canada, before attending the University of Waterloo for her PhD.

Esfahani, born in 1990, received his bachelor and master’s degree in Iran, then moved to Canada to attend the University of Waterloo for a PhD in Construction Automation and Management, according to his LinkedIn page.

“Our thoughts are with the family and friends of everyone who died in this incident and we will provide support to anybody in our University community who is affected by this tragic incident,” said a press release by the university. “We continue to work with the relevant authorities to obtain more information.”

Newlywed Montreal couple

Siavash Ghafouri-Azar and Sara Mamani Credit: CBC

Siavash Ghafouri-Azar and Sara Mamani were returning from Iran after recently getting married, according to CBC. They both studied engineering and completed a master’s degree at Concordia University. 

"He was a great guy. Very dedicated to life, to people, very very decent guy to be honest," said Ghafouri-Azar's uncle, Reza Ghafouri-Azar, to CBC.

According to their LinkedIn profiles, Ghafouri-Azar was a performance specialist at the aircraft engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney Canada, while Mamani worked as a product change and configuration management specialist at Bombardier.

Delaram Dadashnejad

Delaram Dadashnejad Credit: Facebook

Delaram Dadashnejad, 26, was on her way back to Vancouver, after visiting Tehran with family. Her sister confirmed her death to CBC. Dadashnejad was a student at Langara College in British Columbia, who was studying nutrition. According to her friend, Sia Ahmadi, who spoke to CBC, Dadashnejad was originally supposed to fly home on Dec. 17, but had to reschedule her flight after a conflict with her student visa.

Family of three from Vancouver

Ardalan Ebnoddin Hamidi, Niloofar Razzagh and their son, Hamyar Ebnoddin Hamidi, were all on the flight back home to Vancouver. Credit: Facebook

Kei Esmaeilpour, a friend who’s also the head of the Civic Association of Iranian Canadians, confirmed the identities of married couple Ardalan Ebnoddin Hamidi and Niloofar Razzagh to CBC. Their son, Hamyar Ebnoddin Hamidi, was also on the flight. The family of three were on their way home after a two-week holiday vacation.

“Canadian society and Iranian community lost one of the best families. Ardalan Ebnoddin-Hamidi and his family [were] one of the most responsible Iranian-Canadian citizens,” wrote Esmaeilpour on Facebook.
”I extend my condolences to the community and to his family in Canada and in Iran.”

Family of three from Ontario

(Left to right) Evin Arsalani, Hiva Molani, and their one-year-old daughter Kurdia. Credit: Facebook

Evin Arsalani, 30, along with her 38-year-old husband, Hiva Molani, and one-year-old daughter, Kurdia, passed away as a result of the fatal crash, confirmed Evin’s brother Omid Arsalani to CBC

The family had arrived in Iran for a wedding on Dec. 8., and were heading back to their home in Ajax, Ont.

"She was happy, she saw family members, all the people in the family she hasn't seen in years," said Arsalani to CBC.

Mother and daughter

Alina Tarbhai and her mother, Afifa Tarbhai, were on their way back home to Canada after attending a funeral in Iran. Alina was an administrative clerk at the Toronto office of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation.

“Alina was a valued employee, and part of a tightly-knit team at Provincial Office,” said OSSTF president Harvey Bischof in a statement. “She was respected and well-liked by all. Her passing represents a profound loss for all of us who worked with her.”

Parisa Eghbalian 

Dr. Parisa Eghbalian Credit: Aurora Dentistry

Parisa Eghbalian, worked as a dentist at Aurora E&E Dentistry. Her colleagues and family members confirmed her death, according to CBC. Eghbalian was born and raised in Iran, then immigrated to Canada in 2010.

“In her spare time, she enjoys reading and watching movies with her husband and young daughter,” according to her professional bio.

Shadi Jamshidi

Shadi Jamshidi Credit: CBC

Born in 1988, Shadi Jamshidi was a Mississauga sales consultant, who was identified by her close friend, Hamid Mehr, to CBC. Jamshidi was a permanent resident working toward Canadian citizenship.

“She was a lovely person all around, the sort of person you would like to be around, the sort of person that would cheer you up and who would be always there for you,” said Mehr. “It's so hard to think that such a person is gone ... I can't understand this."

Four University of Toronto students

(Left to right)Mojtaba Abbasnezhad. Zeynab Asadi-Lari, Mohammad Hossein Asadi-Lari and Mohammad Salehe. Credit: Facebook/Twitter/WSS

Among the victims were four University of Toronto students in Mohammad Salehe, Zeynab Asadi-Lari, Mohammad Hossein Asadi-Lari and Mojtaba Abbasnezhad.

"On behalf of the entire University of Toronto community, I want to say how deeply saddened we are, and how concerned we are for the families and friends of those who lost their lives,” said UofT president Meric Gertler in a statement. “We are continuing to gather information, and taking care to respect the privacy and wishes of all involved.” 

Abbasnezhad, who also went by the name Soroush, was a first-year international PhD student. His identity was confirmed to CBC by his friend Pooya Poolad, who was also supposed to make the trip to Iran. Poolad says that Abbasnezhad was an Iranian citizen who was living in Toronto as he studied toward his degree in electrical engineering. 

STEM Fellowship co-founder Dr. Sacha Noukhovitch confirmed to that brother and sister Zeynad and Mohammad were also on the flight to Kyiv. STEM is a youth-run Canadian non-profit that mentors students in skills relating to data science and scholarly writing. Zeynab was pursuing a science degree at the University of Toronto Mississauga, where she was also the branch president of the STEM Fellowship. Her brother, Mohammad, attended UofT’s downtown campus as a PhD student, while he’s also credited to have co-founded the STEM Fellowship. 

Salehe, 32, was a PhD student at the University of Toronto. The Globe and Mail spoke to his childhood friend, Mostafa Rokooie, who confirmed that Salehe was happy living in Canada, after having attended middle school and high school in Tehran. It appears that Salehe was in Iran with his wife for a visit, according to The Globe. 

 “He really was an exceptional talent,” said Rokooie. “He was a very good friend and a very friendly person.”

Two students from University of Guelph

Ghanimat Azhdari Credit: ICCA Consortium

University of Guelph confirmed two of its students, Ghanimat Azhdari and Milad Ghasemi Ariani, were on the flight.

“We are deeply saddened to hear of the tragic loss of two of our students,” said university president Franco Vaccarino in a written 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.”

Azhdari was a PhD student in the department of geography, environment and geomatics. She was also a council member of ICCA Consortium, which supports the global movement for Indigenous peoples' and local communities' collective territories of life.”

"We are in utter disbelief and heartbroken at the sudden loss of such a beautiful young life — a true force of nature, and one of the ICCA Consortium's most cherished flowers," the consortium said in its statement.

Ariani was working toward a PhD in the department of marketing and consumer studies, according to the university. 

Four students from Western University

(From left to right) Hadis Hayatdovoudi, Milad Nahavandi and Ghazal Nourian Credit: CTV News

Ghazal Nourian, Milad Nahavandi, Hadis Hayatdavoudi and Sajedeh Saraeian were students at Western University, according to CTV News. 

“This is a difficult time, we are deeply saddened and it’s important for all of us to come together as a caring community,” said Western president Alan Shepard in a statement, while encouraging students to gather in the International and Graduate Affairs Building atrium in the evening.

Nourian was a PhD student in the Nanophotonic Energy Materials group. According to her student bio, she earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degree in Tehran. 

Milad Nahavandi was a PhD student at the Industrial Bioproduct Lab. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s in Iran, before moving to Idaho for his first PhD degree in philosophy, according to his LinkedIn page.

Hadis Hayatdavoudi was a PhD student at the Electrochemistry and Corrosion Science Centre. According to her LinkedIn bio, she earned her master’s in Iran, before attending Western University in 2018.

"You hear the news about very many people being killed or died. But once you know the person, it's very different, especially since that person went to my university, (Hayatdavoudi) had a bright future, she was a PhD student," said fellow student Perham Alibolandi to CBC.

The fourth victim, Sajedeh Saraeian, was an incoming master’s of science student in chemical engineering at Western, according to CTV News.

Five Windsorites 

(Left to right) Samira Bashiri, Hamid Setareh Kokab, Zahra Naghibi, Mohammad Abbas Pourghaddi and Pedram Jadidi. Courtesy: CBC

Samira Bashiri, Hamid Setareh Kokab, Zahra Naghibi, Mohammad Abbas Pourghaddi and Pedram Jadidi were residents of Windsor, Ont., according to CBC.

Bashiri, 29, was part of a cancer research lab at the University of Windsor, which she joined in May 2019. Before moving to Canada, Bashiri trained as a veterinarian in Iran and had hopes of beginning graduate school in Canada in the fall.

"This is a tragic loss for all of us and we are so devastated for her family and friends back home," said Lisa Porter, who supervised Bashiri at the University of Windsor, to CBC.

Bashiri’s husband, Hamid Setareh Kokab, was also among the casualties. He was working toward his PhD in mechanical engineering at the University of Windsor. 

“The entire University of Windsor is heartbroken by this news and we extend our heartfelt condolences to the family, friends, and colleagues of everyone impacted by this terrible tragedy,” said University of Windsor president Robert Gordon in a statement.

Zahra Naghibi, 32, was a PhD student at the University of Windsor, who was studying toward a degree in environmental engineering. According to The Windsor Star, she was also the president of ASHRAE, a group consisting of environmental engineers that focused on staging academia events across Canada. Pourghaddi, Naghidi’s husband, also died in the crash. 

The Windsor Star refers to Pourghaddi as “Ghadi” and reports that he was well known in the Iranian community, acting as an administrator of a Telegram Messenger group called What News About Windsor. In the group, he helped other Iranian immigrants with problems they might encounter, such as finding a place to live, getting insurance, or opening a bank account. 

“He helped people very much,” his friend Niloufar Javid told The Windsor Star. “He was a very good listener. He was very knowledgeable about Iranian and Canadian laws.”

Jadidi was the fifth casualty among the group. He was studying civil engineering at the University of Windsor. According to Global News, he was born in Iran, and travelled back to visit family over the holidays, before having to return to Canada for a new semester.

Two members of Carleton University

(Left to right) Mansour Pourjam and Fareed Arasteh. Credit: Facebook/LinkedIn

Fareed Arasteh and Mansour Pourjam were among the victims of the crash, Carleton University announced.

“Campus flags have been lowered to half-mast to honour Fareed and Mansour, and all of the victims,” said university president Benoit-Antoine Bacon in a statement.

According to the Ottawa Citizen, Arasteh had married his longtime girlfriend on Sunday in Tehran, and was returning to Canada to begin his second term as a PhD student as part of Carleton’s biology department. His wife, Maral Gorginpour, was in the process of applying for a visa to join him in Ottawa.

“He was very eager and wanted to make an impact in the field,” said professor Ashkan Golshani, the head of Carleton’s biology lab, who also acted as Arasteh’s PhD advisor.

Pourjam, the Ottawa Citizen reports, came to Canada in the ‘90s after growing up in Tehran. He graduated from Carleton University in 2001, and spent the last 12 years working at the Ottawa Denture and Implant Centre as a dental technician.

The 53-year-old made the recent trip to Iran to visit his extended family over the holidays.

“He had an infectious personality: He had a laugh that could light up a room,” said Shelley Perras, who was Pourjam’s colleague, to the Ottawa Citizen. “He was always such a positive person.”

Forough Khadem

Forough Khadem.Credit: Mitacs Canada

Forough Khadem’s death and identity was confirmed by Mitacs Inc., a Canadian non-profit that fosters research-based innovation. Khadem worked for Mitacs as a business development specialist, according to her LinkedIn profile.

Khadem, 38, had received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Tehran before earning a PhD in immunology from the University of Manitoba in 2016.

"Forough was one of my best PhD trainees, an outstanding scientist and above all, an amazing human being," said Jude Uzonna, the associate dean (research) at the University of Manitoba’s faculty of health sciences, to CBC. "I am utterly devastated and trying to grapple with this."

Two Calgarians

(Left to right) Arshia Arbabbahrami and Kasra Saati. Credit: CBC

Arshia Arbabbahrami and Kasra Saati were from Calgary, confirmed the city’s mayor Naheed Nenshi.

Arbabbahrami was an international student in Grade 12, who attended Calgary’s Western Canada High School.  He was returning to Canada after spending the holidays in Iran in order to visit his family. 

“Arshia was highly involved in athletic activities, such as the track and field and swim and dive team,” said Western Canada High School’s principal Carma Cornea in a statement. “He dreamt of being a doctor, and was a leader in our community who many students looked up to.”

Saati was an aircraft mechanic, who worked for Viking Air, up until December 2019. The aircraft manufacturer said in a statement that he was a valued member of their team, as they helped identify Saati following the news of the crash.

"He was just [an] ordinary guy, you know, trying to make a better future for himself and his family and of course [his] kids," said family friend Nina Saeidpour to CBC.

Three University of Ottawa students

(Left to right) Saeed Kashani, Mehraban Badiei and Alma Oladi. Credit: Facebook

The University of Ottawa has confirmed that three of its students were among the victims.

Saeed Kashani was working toward his PhD as part of the University of Ottawa’s chemistry and biomolecular department, after earning a master’s degree in Iran. According to The Globe and Mail, who spoke to Kashani’s friend Sareh Soleimani, he was visiting Iran to see his parents and siblings for the first time in years. The 30-year-old had plans to eventually become a Canadian citizen.

Mehraban Badiei was a first-year health sciences student at the University of Ottawa. In an interview with the uOttawa Gazette before her passing, she said her goals for 2020 were “Meeting new people and making new friends." Originally from Tehran, she was known for helping other Iranian students navigate the transition from high school to university, according to the Ottawa Citizen.

Alma Oladi, who was from Tehran, was studying toward her PhD as part of the mathematics and statistics department at the University of Ottawa. On Wednesday, students and faculty members remembered her by turning her desk into a makeshift memorial, including white flowers and cards, along with a picture of her smile, according to The Globe and Mail

“She always had this smile on her face,” said Oladi’s friend Mohsen Zandimoghadam to the Globe. “She was a nice and kind girl, she always wanted to explore places and discover new things in life and new places. She had so many plans for her life in Canada.”

We will be updating this article throughout the day as more information becomes available.