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Crash near Tehran : Flight 752 - a Canadian tragedy

Thousands of Canadians gathered for vigils in front of parliaments, universities and community centers. They remembered the victims of the plane crash in Tehran with candles. This disaster, which occurred many thousands of miles from Canada early Wednesday morning, is also a Canadian tragedy. 138 of the 176 people killed were Canadians or were on their way to Canada. The loss of these people can be felt in many communities in the country.

The visibly shaken Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appeared in front of the press a few hours after the tragedy in Ottawa. “People who no longer come home to their parents, their friends and colleagues or their families, a newly married couple, a family of four, a mother and her two daughters, students and committed university employees. Everyone had so many skills, so much life ahead of them, ”said Trudeau. The crash of Flight 752 marks the largest loss of life in Canada since the 1985 Air India plane bombing.

Lots of people on board with an Iranian-Canadian background

The disaster is a severe blow to Canada and the Canadian-Iranian community. The city of Edmonton is particularly hard hit. 30 of the victims come from the capital of the province of Alberta. "We have lost a substantial part of our community," says Payman Parseyan, a member of the Edmonton Iranian-Canadian Community. "Every Edmonton resident who has Iranian roots knows someone who was on that flight," he told CBC. Because they have problems traveling through the USA, Canadians of Iranian origin prefer to fly from Canada to Europe and from there to Tehran.

Over the Christmas holidays and the turn of the year, they visited family members and friends in their homeland. And for young Iranians, Canadian universities are an attractive training place. At ten universities in Canada from Halifax to Vancouver, people gathered in mourning to commemorate deceased fellow students, friends and professors.

Hamed Esmaeilion, a dentist from Richmond Hill near Toronto, spoke in a tear-choked voice about his wife Parisa Eghbalian and their nine-year-old daughter Reera. In 2010 they emigrated from Iran to Canada with their then six-month-old daughter, “for a better life”. The fact that Canada has not had diplomatic relations with Iran since 2012 now makes it difficult to participate in the investigation into the cause of the accident. It also complicates efforts to transfer the victims to Canada for burial. The Canadian government is now trying to come to an arrangement in direct contact with the Iranian leadership. In addition, Italy, which represents Canada's interests in Iran, has offered its support.

Canadian government wants to participate in clarification

The cause of the crash is still unclear. The Ukrainian passenger plane that crashed shortly after take-off in Tehran was still trying to return to the airport, according to the first findings of the Iranian investigators. Eyewitnesses reported a fire on board the machine. Tehran wants to have the flight recorders evaluated “abroad”, and Ukrainian experts are also involved in the investigations.

Prime Minister Trudeau and Transport Minister Marc Garneau do not want to speculate about the cause of the accident. The plane apparently gained altitude "in a completely normal way" initially, a completely standard take-off, Garneau said. Then something "very unusual" happened, but he doesn't want to speculate. Garneau is not the only one hoping for information from the flight recorders. The government wants the Canadian aviation safety authority to be involved in the evaluation of data from the flight recorders in the investigation - due to the large number of Canadians among the victims.

When asked whether he could categorically rule out that the plane was shot down, Trudeau replied: “I cannot. It is too early to speculate. ”And asked not to speculate about the cause of the accident. Now, right after this "terrible, terrible tragedy," the government is turning its attention to the families who are grieving. Only in the coming days and weeks will the question be asked: "How did that happen?"

The response from the Trudeau administration also shows changes in Canadian society. When almost 35 years ago 278 Canadians of Indian descent were killed in the attack on the Air India plane launched in Vancouver, it was called an "Indian catastrophe". The Ottawa government sent an address of condolence to the Indian government, although most of the victims were Canadians. The current disaster is seen as a Canadian tragedy, even if many of the victims are of Iranian origin. “The whole country is by your side,” says Trudeau. "We share your grief."

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