PM meets families of Iran plane crash victims, as number of Canadians killed revised to 57

Foreign Affairs minister says 57 is the latest number after documents were checked

Photographs are left among candles at a memorial during a vigil in Toronto on Thursday, January 9, 2020, to remember the victims of the Iranian air crash. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

An international dispute over the cause of the Tehran plane crash deepened on Friday even as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met the families of some of the dozens of Canadians killed in the crash and investigators scrambled to get into Iran.

The private conversations between Trudeau and the families of victims in Toronto were the latest attempt by the prime minister to reach out to those affected by Wednesday’s tragedy that killed 176 people.

Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne has revised the number of Canadians killed in the crash to 57, down from an earlier estimate of at least 63. He says it’s a very fluid situation and 57 is the latest number after documents were checked.

Trudeau previously attended a vigil on Parliament Hill to remember the victims Thursday, only hours after asserting that multiple intelligence sources had indicated the Ukraine International Airlines flight was brought down by an Iranian missile, possibly by accident.

Other vigils and memorials were being held across the country Friday and are planned throughout the weekend. There were also reports that Canada was sending a 10-person team to Iran to help the families of the deceased.

While the federal government did not speak to those reports, Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said representatives from Global Affairs Canada’s standing rapid deployment team and the Transportation Safety Board had arrived in Ankara, Turkey.

“To date, Iran has granted us two visas,” Champagne said on Twitter. “We are hoping the other visas will be approved soon so that we may begin to provide consular services, to help with the identification of victims and to participate in any investigation.”

Meanwhile, the dispute over exactly what happened to Flight 752 was heating up.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo became the highest-level American official to directly pin the blame on Iran, with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Australia’s Scott Morrison having made the same conclusions based on intelligence assessments.

“We do believe it is likely that that plane was shot down by an Iranian missile,” Pompeo said as he and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin announced new sanctions against Iran for having launched a salvo of missiles against two military bases in Iraq this week.

He said the U.S. will allow time for Canada to get resources on the ground in Iran and for the probe to wrap up, but added: “When we get the results of that investigation, I am confident that we and the world will take appropriate actions in response.”

Flight 752 went down shortly after Iran launched missile strikes against a military base in the northern Iraqi city of Irbil, where Canadian special-forces soldiers have been operating for the past five years.

The attack, which did not cause any casualties, was in response to the U.S. having killed Iranian Maj.-Gen. Qassem Soleimani.

READ MORE: Questions on cause of Iran plane crash stir fear, confusion

Iran denied any responsibility for the plane crash, blaming it on a fire in the Boeing 737-800’s engine even as it urged the U.S. to wait for the full investigation to conclude and to stop spreading lies and propaganda.

In a statement published by the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency, the Iranian government said: “We recommend the U.S. government to attend to the results of the investigations by the probe committee instead of scattering lies and engineering psychological warfare.”

Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Cloverdale high school teacher chats about teaching and life during the COVID-19 crisis

Surrey’s Walter van Halst sits down for an informal ‘virtual’ coffee to discuss education’s current new reality

Celebrating Easter in Surrey, during COVID-19

Surrey’s Christian churches rise to the occasion, despite Coronavirus challenges

33-storey Whalley highrise, first of three phases, moves to public hearing

Councillors raise concerns about school overcrowding, green roofs

Regional parks in Delta closed for the long weekend

Boundary Bay and Deas Island parks closed ‘until further notice’ on Thursday, April 9

COVID-19 death toll reaches 50 in B.C., while daily case count steadies

B.C. records 34 new cases in the province, bringing total active confirmed cases to 462

B.C. unveils $5M for mental health supports during the COVID-19 pandemic

Will include virtual clinics and resources for British Columbians, including front-line workers

B.C.’s COVID-19 rent supplement starts taking applications

$300 to $500 to landlords for April, May and June if eligible

Reality TV show about bodybuilders still filming in Okanagan, amid COVID-19

Five bodybuilders from across the country flew to Kelowna to move into a house for a reality TV show

B.C.’s top doctor details prescription for safe long weekend

Yes, it includes hosting an online cooking show

BC SPCA seeks help for abandoned German shepherd puppies

Donations have ‘petered out’ as doors are closed due to COVID-19

Researchers to study whether plasma of recovered patients can treat COVID-19

Plasma is the liquid portion of the blood that contains the antibodies that protect against illness

B.C., Alberta health ministers urge public to stay home Easter weekend

Regional politicians, online petition calling for closure of provincial border to non-essential traffic

Most Read