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Nova Scotians among those killed in Iran plane crash

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At least five people with ties to Nova Scotia are among the 176 people killed in a plane crash near Iran’s capital, Tehran, early Wednesday morning. Alicia Draus brings us the latest.

At least five people with ties to Nova Scotia are among the 176 people killed in a plane crash near Iran’s capital, Tehran, early Wednesday morning.

Masoumeh Ghavi, an engineering student at Dalhousie University, and her sister, Mandieh Ghavi, were on the plane, according to Sadra Kord-Jamshidi, president of the Dalhousie Iranian Student Society.

Kord-Jamshidi said Mandieh Ghavi had recently been accepted to study at Dalhousie and Masoumeh Ghavi was accompanying her sister back to Canada for the new semester.

Mandieh Ghavi (Left) and Masoumeh Ghavi (Right).
Mandieh Ghavi (Left) and Masoumeh Ghavi (Right). Instagram

Farhad Raeisi, a member of the Iranian community in Halifax, said he met Ghavi when she first came to Halifax in Sept. 2019. He described her as an “energetic” and “happy” person.

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“She was always very direct and she knew where she wants to go in life,” said Raeisi.

During her time at Dalhousie, Ghavi was also a member of the Dalhousie Iranian Society.

“She worked two jobs here to pay for school and make ends meet,” said Sadra kord-Jamshidi, the president  of dalhousie’s Iranian society. “Despite that she also offered us to help with all of our future events and gatherings and she said we can count on her help.”

“We were really happy to have her contribute and it’s a big loss for us and we’re all really sad and devastated by the news,” he added.

READ MORE: 63 Canadians killed in plane crash near Tehran — Ukrainian official

Raeisi has also confirmed that Dr. Sharieh Faghihi, a dentist who has worked in Halifax for several years, was also on the plane.

Faghihi and her family came to Canada in 2011 and attended the Dalhousie University qualifying program for foreign-trained dentists, according to an alumni magazine article.

An undated photo of Dr. Sharieh Faghihi, a dentist who was onboard the 737-800 that crash near Tehran on Jan. 8, 2020.
An undated photo of Dr. Sharieh Faghihi, a dentist who was onboard the 737-800 that crash near Tehran on Jan. 8, 2020. The Anchor/Dal.ca

Dr. Shadi Ashtari, a close friend of Faghihi, said she was a professor of dentistry at Shiraz University in Iran before coming to Canada 10 years ago.

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“She was one of the best periodontists and professors in Iran and one of the best dentists. She was the nicest person that I had ever seen in my life. All of her students, friends, and family loved her and knew her as a warm-hearted person,” said Ashtari. 

She said that Faghihi, who has a 23-year-old daughter and 31-year-old son, was visiting her family in Tehran for three weeks before flying back to Canada alone.

Raeisi confirmed that Maryam Malek and Fatemeh Mahmoodi were also on the plane.

Both Malek and Mahmoodi were attending St. Mary’s University as masters of financial management students.

Fatemeh Mahmoodi was a masters student at Saint Mary’s University.
Fatemeh Mahmoodi was a masters student at Saint Mary’s University. Fatemeh Mahmoodi/LinkedIn

“They were really friendly,” said Ladan Yahyaeian, a friend of Malek and Mahmoodi since Sept. 2019.

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“We were planning for a future, what to do after graduating and I remember the last time I saw them we were all having dinner together.”

Yahyaeian said she first heard about the plane crash around 2:00 a.m. when she got a notification from her BBC news app.

“I just had a bad feeling and I looked onto the list of passengers and saw their names and that’s how I knew,” she said.

Maryam Malek was a masters student at SMU.
Maryam Malek was a masters student at SMU.

The Iranian community in Halifax is set to hold a memorial service at Al-Rasoul Islamic Society on Thursday from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m.

“All community members and friends are respectfully requested to come,” Al-Rasoul stated in a written statement.

Click to play video 'Video purportedly captures plane crash near Tehran' Video purportedly captures plane crash near Tehran
Video purportedly captures plane crash near Tehran

Both Dalhousie and Saint Mary’s University have released official statements offering their condolences, and reminding their students that supports are available, such as Dal’s Student Health and Wellness Services and SMU’s The Counselling Centre.

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“We extend our deepest sympathies to all of those impacted by this terrible tragedy,” said Brian Leadbetter, director of public relations for Dalhousie University.

Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil issued a short statement on Twitter Wednesday afternoon.

“Sad and shocking news today with 176 people losing their lives in the plane crash in Iran,” McNeil wrote.

“Details are emerging about victims who lived, worked or studied in our province, and on behalf of Nova Scotians, we offer condolences to all those who are impacted by this tragedy.”

READ MORE: Here is what we know about the Canadians killed in the Iran plane crash

Ukrainian and Iranian officials have both said a mechanical issue likely caused the Boeing 737-800 aircraft to crash.

A total of 63 Canadians, 82 Iranians and 11 Ukrainians were on board — the Ukrainian nationals included two passengers and the nine crew. There were also 10 Swedish, four Afghan, three German and three British nationals.

With files from Aya Al-Hakim, Alicia Draus and Rhonda Brown