TORONTO, Jan 8 (Reuters) - A pair of university lecturers and two students were among the 63 Canadian victims of a plane disaster in Iran in Wednesday, according to a Iranian news agency and documents posted to social media.
All 176 people on board the Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737 were killed when the plane crashed shortly after take-off from Tehran. It had been heading for the Ukrainian capital Kiev.
Iran’s ISNA news agency said two of the dead were Pedram Mousavi and Mojgan Daneshmand. Both Mousavi and Daneshmand are professors at the University of Alberta, according to the university’s website.
ISNA named two other victims as Marzieh Foroutan and Delaram Dadashnejad. A picture of the pair’s identity cards for the crash site posted to Twitter showed that Foroutan was a student at the University of Waterloo in Ontario and Dadashnejad was studying in the province of British Columbia.
“Our hearts are with the loved ones of the victims, including many Canadians. I have been in touch with the government of Ukraine,” Canadian Foreign Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said on Twitter.
The disaster was the largest recent loss of life among Canadians since an Air India Flight blew up in 1985 over the Atlantic Ocean, killing 268 Canadians.
According to a 2016 census, around 210,000 of Canada’s 38 million inhabitants are of Iranian descent.
Canada broke off diplomatic relations with Iran in 2012. There are no direct flights between Canada and Iran, which means passengers need to use connecting flights.
“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,” Mahsa Alimardani, a student at Britain’s Oxford University, said on Twitter. (Reporting by Denise Paglinawan, Anna Mehler Paperny and Moira Warburton, writing by David Ljunggren; Editing by David Gregorio)