Twenty-seven people from Edmonton have been confirmed by the local Iranian-Canadian community as victims in Wednesday morning’s plane crash in Tehran.
Payman Paseyan, a member of the Iranian-Canadian community in Edmonton, said about 27 residents, including international students and a family of four that he knew, were on the flight.
Two professors from the University of Alberta, Pedram Mousavibafrooei and Mojgan Daneshmand, and their daughters Daria and Dorina, died. He said he often would go to the gym with the father and described him as a nice guy who often visited his former restaurant with his family.
“I am not aware of any extended family members that they have here. It’s just terrible,” Paseyan said.
Shayesteh Majdnia, a past president of the Iranian Heritage Society of Edmonton, said she was close friends with Shekoufeh Choupannejad, a gynecologist who died along with her two daughters Saba and Sara.
Majdnia said she had spoken to Choupannejad’s husband, who is still in Iran, for confirmation. She said the woman also leaves behind a son who was not on the flight.
“She was the kindest person I had ever met,” Majdnia said, adding that Choupannejad was always there for community fundraisers, and often did her best to help take appointments with new immigrants who were overwhelmed and unable to find immediate medical help.
Paseyan said most of victims were visiting family in Iran over the holidays. He said many were dual citizens and many were international students. “One of the reasons why you take that flight is you wouldn’t want to take a flight that has a connection in the United States because international students can’t do that,” he said.
He said members of the Iranian-Canadian community learned of the crash while being glued to the news after Tuesday’s missile attacks in Iraq.
“Many were expecting their friends and families members to come back” and were aware of the flight they were on, he said. “They were worried about their family members that were in Iran, and now this has compounded that with worry for the community.”
He said there are questions about what caused the crash, but said that’s not the focus right now.
“Whether it’s a missile, mishap or a technical issue or whatever, we want our community members. We lost one per cent of our Edmonton Iranian community members on that flight. It’s just terrible,” he said.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his foreign minister is in touch with the government of Ukraine and his transport minister is reaching out to his international counterparts.
The Canadian Press