Montreal

What we know about the Montreal victims of the Iran plane crash

At least seven of the victims of Wednesday's plane crash in Tehran had been living in Montreal, while others had strong ties to the city. An eighth was from Valcourt, Que. Here is what we know of their stories.

138 of 176 crash victims had been bound for Canada, including at least 8 from Quebec

Siavash Ghafouri-Azar and Sara Mamani were both engineers who studied at Concordia. (Submitted by Nader Jafari Nodoushan)

A newly married bride and groom, a man and a woman who had each recently obtained their PhDs in engineering, and two men training to be welders are among the Montrealers who died when a Ukraine International Airlines plane crashed near Tehran, killing all 176 passengers and crew.

Most of the people on the flight, some 138 passengers, were headed for Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said late Wednesday. Fifty-seven of them were Canadian citizens.

At least seven people had been living in the Montreal region. An eighth lived in Valcourt, Que., and two others had lived in Montreal until recently before moving to Toronto. 

Here are some of their stories.

Siavash Ghafouri-Azar and Sara Mamani

South Shore residents Siavash Ghafouri-Azar and Sara Mamani had both earned master's degrees in engineering at Concordia University and were working in the area.

The pair were in Iran to celebrate their marriage.

Ghafouri-Azar's uncle, Reza Ghafouri-Azar, said a family member in Iran called to let him know that Ghafouri-Azar had been on the plane.

"He was a great guy. Very dedicated to life, to people, very, very decent guy, to be honest — one of the best I've seen in my life," he told CBC News.

Ali Dolatabadi, an engineering professor at Concordia who was one of Ghafouri-Azar's thesis supervisors, said he was a kind, diligent and talented student.

"When he started with us, he was working hard.... He really established a new methodology that we will use and are using [in our work]," he said.

Siavash Ghafouri-Azar and Sara Mamani were both engineers who studied at Concordia. 0:49

Shahab Raana and Sahan Hatefi Mostaghim

Shahab Raana and Sahan Hatefi Mostaghim were training to become welders at a Montreal technical college.

Hamïdreza Zahèdi, a longtime friend of Raana, said Raana had been successful in Iran but had moved to Canada to "look for a better future."

He had only had five or six months left to complete his courses, Zahèdi said.

Zahèdi said Raana loved to sing and play guitar, sometimes sending him recordings.

"Shahab was definitely one of the most kind-hearted people that I've met," he said.

"It's not because he's not among us that I'm saying that, but I truly mean it. Everybody who knew Shahab can say that he was definitely a very kind-hearted person who cares about everybody."

Sahan Hatefi Mostaghim, left, and Shahab Raana, sent this selfie just minutes before their flight took off from the airport in Tehran. (Submitted by Hossein Ensafi Moghaddam)

Faraz Falsafi

Faraz Falsafi lived in Montreal for several years, earning a master's in computer science at McGill University in 2014.

His friend Alborz Zamyadi remembers him as a skilled computer engineer who loved exploring forests like the Mont-Tremblant provincial park, spending hours outdoors in search of the perfect photo.

Only knowing a few people in the area when he moved to Montreal from Quebec City in 2015, Zamyadi was grateful to meet Falsafi at a dinner party and they quickly became close.

"It was actually a gang of four of us. We were so close and doing a lot things together," he said, recounting Falsafi's passion for photography, nature and friends.

Falsafi moved to Toronto a couple years ago to pursue his career. Another long-time friend, Alireza Teimoury, said Falsafi had been returning from his sister's wedding in Iran.

Faraz Falsafi, right, was on the plane. Alireza Teimoury, left, said he and his friend met in Montreal. (Submitted by Alireza Teimoury)

Arvin Morattab and Aida Farzaneh

Arvin Morattab and Aida Farzaneh each recently received their PhDs in engineering from Montreal's École de technologie supérieure and had been travelling in Iran.

They were a "lovely couple," said Ali Barzegar, a former colleague of Morratab. "He was a brilliant man."

Aida Farzaneh, left, and Arvin Morattab, were a 'lovely couple,' a friend said. (Aida Farzaneh/Facebook)

Arvin's twin brother Armin said their deaths were an "unbelievable" loss for the family.

"They planned to have children. They just left to visit family and friends," he said. 

The couple recently got their permanent residency in Quebec, he said, and were excited to start their careers.

He said the couple was full of life and planning on having a child. 1:02

Niloufar Sadr

Niloufar Sadr, 61, was returning to Toronto after visiting family in Iran, according to her ex-husband, Montrealer Reza Banisadre.

He said they have three children, twin daughters, who are 40, and a 42-year-old son, devastated by the loss of their mother. Banisadre said Sadr had moved to Toronto from Montreal about two years ago.

"She loved life a lot. She had lots of friends. She was joyful," he said. 

Sadr used to manage an art gallery on de la Roche Street in Montreal known as MEKIC, for Maison d'Édition Ketabe Iran Canada. Sadr's father, with whom she is pictured, was a prominent Iranian lawyer Ahmad Sayyed Javadi.

Niloufar Sadr, 61, is seen here with her late father, the prominent Iranian lawyer Ahmad Sayyed Javadi. Sadr, who emigrated to Canada from Iran in 1999, lived in Montreal until moving to Toronto two years ago. (Niloufar Sadr/Facebook)

Negar Borghei and Alvand Sadeghi

A young couple, Negar Borghei and Alvand Sadeghi, were on their way back to their respective homes in Montreal and Toronto. 

Borghei was doing a master's in nutrition at McGill University, and Sadeghi was a web developer.

According to her LinkedIn account, Borghei also had a master's in sports nutrition from Azad University in Tehran.

Alvand Sadeghi, left, and Negar Borghei were heading back to Canada. Sadeghi worked as a web developer in Toronto, while Borghei was doing her master's in human nutrition at McGill University. (Submitted by Ali Farjah)

Mohammad Moeini

Mohammad Moeini, 35, was an employee at Bombardier Recreational Products in Valcourt, 120 kilometres east of Montreal, the company confirmed.

He worked as a draftsman.

Mohammad Moeini, 35, was a drafstman at Bombardier Recreational Products in Valcourt. (LinkedIn)

The passenger jet, Flight PS752, crashed Wednesday just minutes after taking off from Tehran's main airport, turning farmland into fields of flaming debris.

The flight, which was destined for the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, is a common connection for Iranian-Canadians returning to Canada. 

As of 2016, there were 23,410 people of Iranian origin living in Montreal. Only Vancouver and Toronto have larger Iranian communities. 

Ukrainian Foreign Affairs Minister Vadym Prystaiko initially said there were 63 Canadians on board. That number has since been revised to 57.

There were also Iranian, Swedish, Afghan, German, British and Ukrainian nationals on board — the Ukrainian nationals included two passengers and the nine crew.

Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne has announced the creation of an international working group of countries assembled to press the Iranian regime for a full and thorough investigation of the incident.

The Quebec government has set up a hotline to assist those affected. The number is 1-877-644-4545.

Corrections

  • An earlier version of this story misidentified one of the Montreal victims as Sahand Sadaghi, who is in fact a victim from the Toronto area. The name of the Montrealer is Sahan Hatefi Mostaghim.
    Jan 09, 2020 11:40 AM ET

With reporting from Jay Turnbull, Jaela Bernstien, Isaac Olson and Verity Stevenson

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