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Two UofG, 2 Waterloo students killed in Iran crash

Web posted on January 08, 2020

Two University of Guelph Phd and two Waterloo students were among the 176 people killed in the crash of an Ukraine International Airlines that crashed after take-off from Tehran, Iran.

Reports state 63 Canadians were killed. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau revealed that 138 of the passengers aboard the plane were flying to Canada.

The majority of those killed in the crash were from Edmonton, including faculty and students from the University of Alberta, according to a list compiled by Maclean's Magazine.

The two Guelph students are identified as: University of Guelph PhD student and social science researcher, 36-year-old Ghanimat Azhdari, according to CBC News and Milad Ghasemi Ariani, enrolled in a marketing and consumer studies program at U of Guelph, according to Global.

"My heart goes out to the loved ones of Ghanimat Azhdari and Milad Ghasemi Ariani, whose lives were taken in yesterday's tragic plane crash in Iran," Mike Schreiner, Guelph MPP, said.

"My deepest condolences to their families and friends, as well as the University of Guelph community, which is mourning the death of two of its PhD students. My thoughts are with everyone impacted by this devastating tragedy."

Marzieh (Mari) Foroutan, a PhD student of geography and Mansour Esnaashary Esfahani, a PhD student of civil engineering.were killed. Both attended the University of Waterloo, the CBC reports.

"Everyone at Waterloo is shocked and saddened to learn of the death of Mari Foroutan and Mansour Esfahani," said University of Waterloo president Feridun Hamdullahpur.

"Our hearts ache for them, their friends and family with whom we all mourn together. Mari and Mansour were part of a close-knit community of researchers here at Waterloo who will need our care and support.

"We are united with the Canadian academic community and all Canadian-Iranians in grieving the loss of Mari and Mansour and the loss of so many other students and researchers from across Canada.

"As we grieve, we will support the family, friends and co-workers of those who have died and keep them in our thoughts at this most difficult of times."

Many of those killed aboard the flight were academics, either faculty or students at various universities in Canada. Reports indicate those killed came from institutions in Ottawa, Hamilton, Guelph, Calgary, Edmonton and Windsor, Ontario.

An early report stated the plane was hit by an Iranian missile. It was later deleted. The crash comes at a time of heightened tension between the U.S. and Iran over the assassination of an Iranian general. Threats and counter-threats were being made at the time.

Cause of the crash is under investigation. News reports state the pilot had more than 11,000 hours of flying time on Boeing 737 aircraft. The co-pilot had 5,500 hours.

While nothing has been determined, a Ukraine Airlines vice-president can't view the cause as pilot error.

"According to our records, the aircraft ascended as high as 2,400 meters. Given the crew's experience, error probability is minimal. We do not even consider such a chance," Ihor Sosnovsky, UIA's VP of operations said.