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Two people with Halifax connections among victims of plane crash in Iran
HALIFAX -- The names of the victims involved in a fatal plane crash in Iran are still coming out, but there is confirmation of some Maritime connections.
Flight PS752, a Boeing 737-800 aircraft, hurtled into farmland outside of Tehran only minutes after taking off from the capital’s main international airport on Wednesday morning.
Of the 167 passengers and nine crew members who were killed in the Ukraine International Airlines jet crash, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters that 138 of them -- including 63 Canadians -- were scheduled to arrive in Toronto Wednesday afternoon on a connecting flight from Kyiv, Ukraine.
Ukrainian Foreign Affairs Minister Vadym Prystaiko said there were 63 Canadians, 82 Iranians, and 11 Ukrainians on board. There were also 10 Swedish, four Afghan, three German, and three British nationals killed in the crash.
Dalhousie University engineering student Masoumeh Ghavi and Halifax dentist Dr. Sharieh Faghihi are among the victims.
Ali Nafarieh couldn't believe it when he saw news that the plane -- destined for Canada -- crashed in Tehran, but he was even more surprised when he saw the passenger list.
"It was shocking when I saw familiar names," said Nafarieh, who is a professor at Dalhousie University and president of the Iranian Cultural Association of Nova Scotia. "At first, I couldn't believe it; I was hoping that was just a similar name."
Nafarieh also runs an IT company and says one of the victims was Masoumeh Ghavi -- who was working on her master's degree in engineering at Dalhousie University. Ghavi was also working part-time at Nafarieh's company.
"I can say she was for sure one of the top students," says Nafarieh. "I remember she has always a smile on her face. What she brought in our company in addition to skills and knowledge and experience was her energy. She changed the atmosphere over there. We'll miss her a lot."
The Halifax dental clinic Faghihi worked at said grief counsellors will be available to staff on Thursday.
Nafarieh believes there could be as many as 12 Iranians from Nova Scotia who were on board. Many were young university students.
"On behalf of the Iranian Cultural Society, I pass our deepest condolences to the friends, families who have been affected in this. It's devastating, it's very sad," he said.
Nafarieh says the entire community is in shock and mourning following the crash.
"It's believed that there were other people on the flight with Haligonian connections. We don't know who they are yet," said Halifax MP Andy Fillmore. "I think there's a process of notifying their families."
Saint Mary's University was working to confirm that two students who attended the Halifax school and were on the passenger list were actually on the flight when it crashed.
Nafarieh says Masoumeh Ghavi was travelling with her younger sister, Mandieh, who was about to start school in Halifax.
Dalhousie University wouldn't confirm if either woman was enrolled at the school, or if any other students may have been affected by the fatal plane crash, but the flags at the university were at half-mast Wednesday.
In a statement, a Dalhousie spokesperson said: "We extend our deepest sympathies to all of those impacted by this terrible tragedy. We are engaging our local team and government partners to understand if any members of our Dalhousie community are impacted. We have limited information to share at this time, and our thoughts are with all of those involved in this tragedy."