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Canadians mourn 63 citizens killed in Iran plane crash

Flags have been lowered across the Greater Toronto Area to remember the victims of the Ukraine International Airlines crash in Iran. All 176 people on board were killed and 63 were Canadians. As Dan Karpenchuk reports, more than a dozen were from Ontario.

Several victims were students at the University of Toronto. In a statement, university officials said they were deeply saddened and concerned for the families and friends who died. Several students from York region were among the victims and two students from the University of Guelph, west of Toronto.  

One of them PHD student Ghanimat Azhdari was described as a passionate young leader who fought for the rights of indigenous peoples. Her friend and colleague Emma Cortina said she will be missed.

“We can’t really believe that this happened. It was very sudden. It’s a huge loss for all of us….a very strong, inspiring powerful woman that just passed away," Cortina said.

Five University of Windsor students and researchers were also killed, including research assistant Hamid Setareh and his wife Samira Bashiri. Assistant professor Afshin Rahimia says the news of their death was devastating.

“I remember meeting with him before he went to Iran. I wished him a safe trip. They were going to visit family because it was his first year down here. And it was just a lot of hope and a lot of plans for the future that never came to reality afterward," Rahimia said.

Ontario premier Doug Ford released a statement in which he said his heart breaks for the families and loved ones.  Toronto mayor John Tory said he was deeply saddened by the tragedy, adding that victims on the Ukraine Airlines flight were friends, neighbors, co-workers and classmates.   

Flags at Toronto's city hall and at its civic center will be lowered until Monday.

WBFO’s comprehensive news coverage extends into Southern Ontario and Dan Karpenchuk is the station’s voice from the north. The award-winning reporter covers binational issues, including economic trends, the environment, tourism and transportation.
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