At least five Quebecers are among the 176 victims killed when a Ukrainian passenger plane crashed in a field near Iran’s capital, Tehran, early Wednesday morning.
Arvin Morattab and Aida Farzaneh were a couple from Montreal who studied at the same university in the city. Both were part of a PhD program at École de technologie supérieure.
“I can’t imagine that I have to use past tense when I’m talking about them,” said their friend, Aria Isapor.
Farzaneh was also a lecturer in the engineering department at the school in downtown Montreal. Stéphanie Sauvé, the director of communications at ETS, said the deaths come as a blow to the school community.
“You will understand we are in shock,” she said.
Ukrainian officials have confirmed that 63 Canadians were on the plane at the time of the crash, which killed all passengers and crew members. Many of them were university students from across Canada.
The crash occurred just hours after Iran launched a ballistic missile attack on two Iraqi bases housing U.S. soldiers following the targeted killing of a top Iranian general in a U.S. airstrike.
While the cause of the crash remains unconfirmed, authorities in Ukraine and Iran both said a mechanical issue likely brought down the Boeing 737-800 aircraft.
Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante said her thoughts are with the families and friends of the victims.
“What a tragedy,” she said. “Every time we hear something something like that we just think about the people that lost someone.”
Montreal newlyweds worked hard
Siavash Ghafouri-Azar and Sara Mamani from Montreal were also killed in the crash. The pair were in Iran for their wedding.
Ali Dolatabadi, a professor at Concordia University, taught Ghafouri-Azar for more than two years. He had a great soul and was a devoted student, according to Dolatabadi.
“He was extremely dedicated, very polite,” he said. “And very humble and hardworking.
“He always had a smile. A gentleman — a true gentleman.”
Ghafouri-Azar was a performance specialist at Pratt and Whitney Canada, according to his LinkedIn profile. He held a master’s in science from Concordia University, where he also worked as an instructor.
Mamani, his wife, also studied at Concordia University and held a master’s degree in mechanical industrial and geoenvironmental engineering. At the time of her death, she worked at Bombardier.
When Dolatabadi last saw Ghafouri-Azar in December, he learned the couple had recently purchased a home on Montreal’s south shore.
“I’m still in shock,” he said.
Suong Van Hoa was Mamani’s master’s supervisor at Concordia. He said she was working hard to support her mother and younger sister after her father passed away while she was in school.
Hoa said he was relieved when he learned Mamani had secured employment with Bombardier and that he was happy she was doing well.
“It’s very unfortunate to hear this accident happened,” he said. “She was such a nice, hardworking person.”
Sherbrooke resident killed in crash
Amin Sadeghi was supposed to pick up his relative, Mohammed Moeini, at the airport on Wednesday when he learned about the crash.
“I need to digest it,” he said. “It’s still unbelievable.
“I really can’t imagine what went through the heads of the people on that flight. It must have been just been horrifying.”
Moeini was a mechanical designer at Bombardier Recreational Products in Valcourt. A company spokesperson said they were saddened to learn of his death and their deepest sympathies go to his family.
He lived in Montreal for a little under two years when he moved to Sherbrooke to be closer to work, according to Sadeghi. He added Moeini was the kind of person who never complained.
“He was humble and kind,” he said.
— With files from Global News’ Hannah Jackson, Amanda Jelowicki, Anne Leclair and the Canadian Press