EDITOR’S NOTE: On Jan. 10, the Canadian government updated the number of Canadians killed in the Jan. 8 Ukraine International Airlines crash in Iran from 63 to 57.
The devastation following the crash of Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752 sent ripples of grief through the Greater Toronto Area and the close-knit Iranian and Ukrainian communities.
Mayor John Tory is among the hundreds confirmed to attend the two vigils — one of which is being hosted by independent Iranian-Canadian citizens in Mel Lastman Square at 6 p.m. The other vigil, which is being hosted by the Iranian Canadian Congress, begins at 6:30 p.m. inside the North York Civic Centre.
A third vigil is planned for 7:30 p.m. at the Islamic Iranian Center for Imam Ali in North York.
Global News confirmed over 30 of those who died, including a family of three and numerous students, lived in the GTA.
“Everybody knows everybody in the Iran community,” Olga Moss said when talking about the loss of her colleague and friend, Faezeh “Fran” Falsafi.
“You look at people’s eyes and you can see tears filling them.”
Falsafi was a mother and a sales representative at HomeLife/Bayview Realty. She was returning to Toronto with her two children when the plane crashed near Iran’s capital shortly after takeoff.
“I walked into the kitchen and looked at the TV yesterday morning and just thought, ‘God, please don’t tell me one of us is on that plane,'” Moss said. She later received a phone call that confirmed her fears.
“It’s very difficult. She was such a beautiful person… a beautiful soul. A nice soul. Something about her… she was like a magnet.”
Among the other victims was a family of three, Evin Arsalani, 30, Hiva Molani, 38, and their one-year-old daughter Kurdia.
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Saharnaz Haghjoo and her eight-year-old daughter Elsa Jadidi were confirmed to have been on board the flight.
“She was an exceptional lady and glowing all her short life,” Elsa’s father, Habib Haghjoo said. “She was my sweet heart. She was a sweet and amazing girl.”
An Aurora, Ont.-based dentist, Parisa Eghbalian, 43, and her nine-year-old daughter Reera Esmaeilion were also identified.
Global News confirmed Sheyda Shadkhoo was returning from Tehran following a three-week vacation to visit her family for the holidays.
“She was so caring, so kind, so clever, so full of energy and positivity,” said Niloofar Kalantari, who worked with Shadkhoo for seven years. “Everyone loved her. She always had a very beautiful smile.”
Also identified were married couple Iman Ghaderpanah, a mortgage specialist, and Parinaz Ghaderpanah, an RBC employee.
Richmond Hill residents Bahareh Karami, a “dedicated and enthusiastic” technologist with York Region; Suzan Golbabapour, a “kind and real human” who worked as a Remax agent; and 18-year-old Arad Zarei were among the victims.
“He was the apple of my eye and his energetic demeanour and caring personality left a lasting impression on his classmates and many friends,” Mehrzad Zarei, Arad’s father, said in a statement.
Also on board was Afifa Tarbhai, 55, an accounts administrator with Briarlane Property Management, and her daughter Alina Tarbhai, 31,an administrative clerk with the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation.
Sadaf Hajiaghavand, who was born in 1992, lived in Toronto. Her presence on the flight was confirmed by the travel agency through which she booked her trip, Marouf Travel.
Toronto District School Board spokesperson Ryan Bird identified the students killed as Sophie Emami, a senior kindergarten student at Lillian Public School; Arnica Niazi, a Grade 3 student at Finch Public School; Rahmtin Ahmadi, a Grade 4 student at Muirhead Public School, Arsan Niazi, a Grade 6 student at Pleasant Public School; and Maya Zibaie, a Grade 10 student at Northern Secondary School.
The University of Toronto released a statement confirming the identities of Mojtaba Abbasnezhad, Mohammad Asadi Lari, Zeynab Asadi Lari, Mohammad Amin Beiruti, Mohammad Amin Jebelli and Mohammad Saleheh as passengers on the plane.
Married couple, Mohsen Salahi and Mahsa Amirliravi attended Ryerson University and were confirmed deceased by their employer at Forest Hill Real Estate.
Identities of additional victims are still being confirmed.