Canada’s foreign affairs minister says that based on the latest information available, 57 Canadians were killed in the crash of Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 on Wednesday.
Previously, officials said 63 Canadians were among the 176 passengers and crew killed when the airliner crashed outside the Iranian capital of Tehran.
“This is a very fluid situation. We said that from the get-go in terms of identifying the number of victims which would be Canadians on board,” Francois-Philippe Champagne told reporters on Friday.
The lower total is based on additional information about birth dates and travel documents, he said.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday that based on Canadian and allied intelligence, it’s believed the plane was shot down by an Iranian missile, something Iran denies.
Trudeau said a total of 138 people on the aircraft were supposed to catch connecting flights to Canada.
Champagne said that number hasn’t changed to his knowledge.
He also announced additional measures aimed at supporting families of the victims.
Trudeau has asked the clerk of privy council to set up an “emergency task force” of senior officials to help the families and loved ones of those who were killed. The government will also set up a dedicated process in order to resolve issues regarding travel visas.
“Our government is mobilizing as quickly as possible to provide more support to families, many of whom are currently separated from their loved ones,” Champagne said.
Mississauga, Ont., MP Omar Alghabra, a parliamentary secretary to the prime minister, has been appointed to work directly with the families.
Meanwhile, 10 officials from Global Affairs Canada are on the ground in Ankara, Turkey, waiting to assist in Iran, Champagne said.
Two officials from the Transportation Safety Board are set to join them.
TSB received an invitation from Iranian aviation authorities to visit the site of the crash on Thursday. The agency said in a statement Friday that the full extent of the TSB’s involvement in the investigation is still being determined.
So far, the Iranian government, with which Canada has no formal diplomatic relationship, has granted two visas for Canadian officials enter the country, according to Champagne.
Canada is also leading a group of nations that lost citizens in the crash so they can advocate with “one single voice,” Champagne said.
The new International Co-ordination and Response Group includes Ukraine, Sweden, Afghanistan and the United Kingdom.
It will likely focus on pressuring Iran to conduct a thorough and transparent investigation.
“Transparency is what the international community is looking for now,” Champagne said, adding: “The world is watching what the Iranian government is doing now.”
–With files from the Canadian Press