Ukrainian airliner crash: Most on board from Iran, Canada

Relatives of the flight crew members of the Ukraine International Airlines plane that crashed in Iran mourn at a memorial at the Boryspil International airport outside Kiev, Ukraine, on Jan 8, 2020. PHOTO: REUTERS

TEHERAN • The vast majority of the 167 passengers on the Boeing 737 flight from Teheran to Kiev that crashed yesterday were non-Ukrainians.

Among them were 82 Iranians and 63 Canadians, officials said.

Other passengers included 10 Swedes, four Afghans, three Germans and three Britons, Ukraine's Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko said.

Eleven Ukrainians - including the nine crew - were also on board.

Most passengers were in transit, Ukraine International Airlines (UIA) said.

Canada is home to a large Iranian diaspora community, and UIA offers discount flights between Teheran and Toronto, with a transit in Kiev.

Toronto, Canada's largest city, is even referred to by some Iranians as "Teheran-to".

Officials in Teheran said 15 children were among the passengers.

The semi-official news agency ISNA said 13 of them were students from Teheran's Sharif University, the most prestigious in the country.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky cut short a holiday in Oman and flew back to Ukraine yesterday.

"My sincere condolences to the relatives and friends of all passengers and crew," he said in a statement.

Mr Zelensky said on Facebook that he had ordered the creation of a crisis team to handle the incident. The team will include top ministers and be managed by the country's national security agency.

"We have prepared emergency planes to send to Teheran... to fly out the bodies of the victims, we are awaiting confirmation by Iran for their departure," Mr Zelensky wrote.

He had also warned against speculation on the crash, and putting out "unconfirmed theories" about its cause.

Canada's Minister for Foreign Affairs Francois-Philippe Champagne said yesterday that he is in touch with the government of Ukraine and would keep Canadians informed of the situation.

"Our hearts are with the loved ones of the victims, including many Canadians," he tweeted.

Sweden's Foreign Ministry said its embassy in Teheran was seeking further information about the crash.

Foreign Minister Ann Linde said she had spoken to Ukraine's Mr Prystaiko.


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 09, 2020, with the headline Ukrainian airliner crash: Most on board from Iran, Canada. Subscribe