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Outpouring Of Grief As Iranians, Canadians Mourn Plane Crash Victims

Relatives of the flight crew of the Ukrainian airliner mourn at Boryspil International Airport outside Kyiv.

A newlywed couple returning from their wedding, a family of three, including a 1-year-old toddler, a doctoral student, and a mother and her 8-year-old daughter are among the victims of a Ukrainian plane crash in Iran that killed all 176 people on board.

The tragedy led to an outpouring of grief for the victims, including many dual Iranian-Canadian nationals who were on their way back to Canada.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko said 82 Iranians, 63 Canadians, and 11 Ukrainians were aboard the plane. There were also 10 Swedes, four Afghans, three Germans, and three Britons, he said.

At least 27 of the Canadian victims were from Edmonton, the capital of Canada’s Alberta Province.

Reza Akbari, the president of the Iranian Heritage Society of Edmonton, was quoted by Canadian media as saying that “The majority of them are students of the University of Alberta, faculty members, members of our community.”

“Another dramatic story is the fact that a couple just got married,” he added.

“One of my wonderful PhD students, Ghanimat Azdahri, was on the plane that crashed in Tehran this morning,” Faisal Mola, an associate professor in geography at the University of Guelph in Canada, tweeted.

He added that Azdahri was on her way back after visiting her family in her native country, Iran.

“The students and I are in so much pain,” he added.

“The number of young, brilliant, hopeful Iranians who were returning to their studies in Canada represent an unfathomable loss to Canadian higher education, arts, science & the world. And as a faculty member in Canada & Iranian American I am honestly just destroyed,” said Neda Maghbouleh, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Toronto.

Iranian media reported that 14 of the victims were graduates of Iran’s elite Sharif University.

"It’s very painful to read that Iranian elite who were on their way to start a new life lost their lives," Kousha Jamshidi said on Twitter.

“My heart is with all the families of those lost,” said Mahsa Alimardani, a doctoral student at the University of Oxford's Internet Institute.

"I've had family take the Tehran to Toronto route via Kiev in the past year. It’s been a new affordable route for many Iranian-Canadians who don’t have direct flights from Canada," Alimardani added.

Ahmad Halabisaz, an Iranian photojournalist who had taken photos of the aftermath of the crash, said on Instagram that the crash scene was “different” from anything he had seen before.

“I have covered four or five air crashes in Iran so far. Yesterday was different,” he said, adding that “I cannot easily forget those scenes.”

Others complained that Iranian authorities had failed to announce an official day of mourning for the tragic deaths.

“We had...three days of mourning for a single person, [but] nothing for more than hundred killed in a plane crash,” a man in Tehran wrote on Instagram, referring to three days of state mourning for Iran’s top military commander, Qasem Soleimani.

Many reposted the last tweet of one passenger, a doctoral student at the University of Toronto: "I predicted that a war would start right before my flight," he wrote with a smiley in what appeared to have been a reference to the rising tensions between Tehran and Washington following the assassination of Soleimani and Iran’s retaliatory missile attack on U.S. bases in Iraq.

“Forgive me for my good and bad deeds,” he added.

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