Ottawa

What we know about the Iran plane crash victims with links to Ottawa

More details are emerging today about the passengers killed when Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752 crashed in Iran on Wednesday. At least eight of the victims lived in Ottawa or had close ties to the city.

At least 8 of the 176 victims had ties to the capital

Starting from the top left, Fereshteh Maleki, Alireza Pey, Mehraban Badiei, Fareed Arasteh, Mansour Pourjam, Alma Oladi, Saeed Kashani and Roja Azadian, are among the people with close ties to Ottawa who died in the Ukraine International Airlines crash on Jan. 8, 2020. (CBC News)

More details are emerging today about the passengers killed when Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752 crashed in Iran on Wednesday. Several of the victims lived in Ottawa or had close ties to the city.

The flight, bound for Kyiv, went down just minutes after taking off from Tehran's Imam Khomeini airport, killing all 176 people on board.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said 138 of the passengers were heading to Canada, 57 of whom were Canadian citizens.

A vigil was held on Parliament Hill at 6 p.m. this evening to commemorate those who lost their lives.

Kevin Manesh, Saeideh Shabani, Mohsen Zandi and Robert MacLeay describe the impact of hearing that a close friend or colleague — Alireza Pey, Fereshteh Maleki Dizaje, Alma Oladi and Mansour Pourjam — had been killed in the plane crash in Iran.  2:01

The Ukrainian embassy is also inviting the public to sign a book of condolence from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at 310 Somerset St. W. in Centretown.

CBC Ottawa has confirmed the identities of eight people with ties to the city who died in the crash. They include university students, a local businessman, a dental worker and a woman who worked as an architect in Iran. Here is what we can report so far.

Alma Oladi

Alma Oladi, a student at the University of Ottawa, poses in this undated handout photo. Oladi was among the 176 people who were killed when Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752 crashed after takeoff near Tehran, Iran. (Submitted/The Canadian Press)

Alma Oladi was a PhD student in mathematics at the University of Ottawa.

Students and staff who knew her turned her desk into a makeshift memorial on Wednesday, with white flowers and cards placed next to a photo of Oladi flashing her signature smile.

"She always had this smile on her face," said friend Mohsen Zandimoghadam.

"She was a nice and kind girl. She always wanted to explore places and discover new things in life and new places. She had so many plans for her life in Canada."

CBC/Radio-Canada spoke with Oladi's mother, who is in Iran right now. She said she is devastated by the loss of her daughter, who was returning to Canada after visiting family in Iran for the holidays. 

Fereshteh Maleki 

Fereshteh Maleki was looking forward to being able to rest and feel comfortable this year after returning from her daughter’s wedding in Tehran. (Facebook)

Fereshteh Maleki moved to Canada two or three years ago, according to her friend, Saeideh Shabani, who told CBC she works in real estate and became friends with Maleki after helping her find a home. 

Shabani said Maleki was looking forward to being able to rest this year after returning from her daughter's wedding in Tehran. 

Shabani teared up thinking about their last conversation.

"She was talking about what she wanted to do and she told me, 'Maybe 2020 will be the year I can rest more. I have my job, I have my house now, [I can] resettle completely. Maybe it's the time we can enjoy our life in Canada,'" Shabani recalled. "But it didn't happen."

Alireza Pey

Ottawa's Alireza Pey died on board Ukrainian International Airlines Flight PS752, a close friend confirmed to CBC. (Ali Pey/Facebook)

Alireza Pey, 48, lived in Ottawa and owned the technology startup Message Hopper.

His friend, Kevin Manesh, said Pey was in Tehran visiting his sick father. 

"He was very hard-working," Manesh said. "We'll all miss his smile."

Pey leaves behind two daughters in Ottawa.

Saeed Kashani

Saeed Kashani, a PhD student at the University of Ottawa, was killed in the Iran plane crash. (Submitted/CBC-Radio Canada)

Saeed Kashani was also working toward a PhD at the University of Ottawa.

CBC/Radio-Canada spoke to Alireza Khoshroo, Kashani's cousin, and his father, both of whom are in Iran.

"We are so shocked, and I can't accept this accident," said Khoshroo, who lived with Kashani for many years when they were young boys.

Kashani was both popular and studious, Khoshroo said.

"He has so many friends here," he said.

Khoshroo said Kashani studied extremely hard for many years in order to get into the University of Ottawa.

"Saeed had many goals ... since before he started his education for a PhD at Ottawa university," he said.

Through a translator, Kashani's father said today was one of the hardest days of his life.

Fareed Arasteh

Fareed Arasteh was among the 176 people who died in Wednesday's crash. He was working on his PhD at Carleton University in Ottawa and had just recently married his longtime girlfriend. (Submitted/CBC News)

Fareed Arasteh was a PhD student at Carleton studying biology. He returned to Iran over the holidays to marry his long-time girlfriend, Maral. 

Arasteh was studying molecular genetics under Carleton University professor Ashkan Golshani, who described his pupil as the kind of person who asked deep questions. 

"He was doing a fantastic job. Very nice guy. Very soft-spoken. Such a gentle soul," Golshani said. "Whenever he was given the opportunity, he would go out of his way to help others."

Mansour Pourjam

Mansour Pourjam, an alumnus of Carleton University's biology program, died on board Flight PS752 when the plane crashed in Iran on Wednesday. (Mansour Pourjam/Facebook)

Mansour Pourjam, an alumnus of Carleton University's biology program, worked as a technician at an Ottawa denture clinic. He lived in Barrhaven.

Robert MacLeay, the owner of the Ottawa Denture and Implant Centre in a Bells Corners where Pourjam worked, called his death a "tragic personal loss" for everyone at the clinic. 

"He was lovable. He was truly someone who made you laugh," MacLeay said. 

Pourjam leaves behind a 13-year-old son, MacLeay said. 

Roja Azadian

Roja Azadian's husband, Mohsen Ahmadipour, was supposed to join her on Flight PS 752, but didn't board the plane because of a ticket mix-up. (Facebook)

Roja Azadian was supposed to travel to Canada for the first time with her husband, Mohsen Ahmadipour, who has been studying at Algonquin College in Ottawa, but a mix-up over his ticket meant he couldn't get on the plane with her.

"He was thinking, I'm going to send her and then I'm going to be back on the next flight," said Leila Hojabri, a friend of Azadian's husband.

He had even called a friend in Ottawa, Ahmad Hojabri, to ask him to pick Azadian up at the airport and ensure she was safe. Azadian died aboard Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752 before the couple could be reunited.

"We were waiting for them. They were supposed to live with us in our basement," Hojabri told CBC.

"Their house was ready. They were ready to start their new life here."

Ahmadipour is now in Iran with his late wife's parents, trying to figure out what to do next, said Hojabri.

Mehraban Badiei

Mehraban Badiei, 18, had just completed her first semester at the University of Ottawa and was back in Iran visiting her family. (Submitted/CBC News)

Mehraban Badiei was an 18-year-old University of Ottawa student who had just finished her first semester. She rented her apartment in Ottawa from family friend Reza Matin and his wife.

Matin told CBC he knew Badiei for only four months, but the young woman made an impression. 

"She was a very kind soul," he said. 

Badiei was in Iran visiting her mother and father for the holidays, Matin said. Her mother is so shocked by her daughter's death she cannot speak, he said.

"Mehraban was the only child in the family," he said. "They're devastated."

With files from The Canadian Press