Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says his government will provide quick funds to the families of 57 citizens and 29 permanent residents of the country who died when a Ukrainian jetliner was shot down in Iran last week.
Trudeau on January 17 said that, although Canada will provide C$25,000 (US$19,122) to the Canadian-tied victims’ families, he still expects Iran to compensate these relatives. He said the immediate funds will help families pay for funerals, travel to Iran, and other costs.
Any funds later provided by Tehran will go directly to the victims’ families, he said.
"I want to be clear, we expect Iran to compensate these families," Trudeau said. "But I have met them. They can't wait weeks. They need support now."
After initially denying responsibility, Iran admitted that its military "unintentionally" shot down the Ukrainian airliner on January 8 after it departed the Tehran airport, killing all 176 people aboard.
Iranian officials said the plane was accidentally shot down after it veered toward a sensitive military site.
Trudeau has said the downing of the aircraft was a "Canadian tragedy" because 138 of the passengers were headed for Canada.
It had previously been reported that 57 of the victims were Canadian citizens, mainly from the country’s large Canadian-Iranian community. Trudeau's remarks for the first time also confirmed that 29 permanent residents of Canada were also among the fatalities.
Citizens of Iran, Afghanistan, Ukraine, Sweden, Britain, and Germany were also aboard the plane.
Canada in 2012 suspended diplomatic relations with Tehran, but Trudeau and Canada's foreign minister have had contacts with their Iranian counterparts in the wake of the shoot-down.
Trudeau also said the Boeing 737-800 passenger jet’s “black boxes” had been badly damaged, and he called on Tehran to turn them over to France as part of the probe into the international investigation.
"Iran does not have the level of technical expertise and mostly the equipment necessary to be able to analyze these damaged black boxes quickly," Trudeau said.
"The right place to send those black boxes to get proper information from them and in a rapid way" is France, he said, adding "that is what we're encouraging the Iranian authorities to agree to."
The spokesman for BEA, the French accident investigating agency, said it has not been informed about whether it will eventually receive the plane’s black boxes and its voice and data recorders as part of the investigation.