‘People are in shock’: Victoria prof. says Iran plane crash will reverberate across Canada

Death toll includes 63 Canadians, 11 of them British Columbians

A Ukranian jetliner that crashed minutes after takeoff from an Iranian airport, killing all 176 on board, is now being linked to a ballistic missile attack by Irani forces – news that will certainly impact the nation’s anxiety and grief, says a Greater Victoria professor.

The death toll includes at least 57 Canadians, more than one dozen British Columbians and one Greater Victoria resident – first-year bachelor of commerce student Roja Omidbakhsh.

“I think most Canadians are probably in a complete state of shock about what’s happened,” said Kenneth Christie, professor and program head for Royal Roads University’s Human Security and Peacebuilding graduate programs. “This is a national disaster. I think it’s going to take a long time. People are in shock and it’s obviously going to take quite some time for healing.”

RELATED: First-year UVic student among the 176 victims of Iran plane crash

According to an initial Iranian investigative report released Thursday, Flight PS752, a Boeing 737 operated by Ukranian International Airlines, was on fire and attempting to get back to the Tehran airport when it crashed after reaching nearly 8,000 feet of altitude. The report says the flight crew never made a radio call for help.

François-Philippe Champagne, Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister, released a ‘readout’ of his conversation with the Iranian foreign minister in which the Canadian official “stressed the need” for Canadian officials to get quick access to Iran to provide consular services, help with identifying the deceased and take part in the investigation of the crash.

RELATED: Iran says Ukrainian plane was on fire, tried to turn back before crash

Bodies of the victims of a Ukrainian plane crash are collected by rescue team at the scene of the crash in Shahedshahr, southwest of the capital Tehran, Iran, Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020. A Ukrainian passenger jet carrying 176 people crashed on Wednesday, just minutes after taking off from the Iranian capital’s main airport, turning farmland on the outskirts of Tehran into fields of flaming debris and killing all on board. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

The crash followed a week of escalating U.S.-Iran tensions, starting with an American drone strike that killed top Iranain commander Qasem Soleimani near Baghdad Jan. 3. U.S. military forces were evicted from the region, and Iranian state television reported that Iran would no longer abide by limits of its 2015 nuclear deal.

“Canada typically follows the line that the U.S. follows in terms of its foreign policy,” Christie said. “Though I think in this case there’s probably some upset that the U.S. went and conducted the drone strike against Soleimani on their own.”

RELATED: Iran warns US to not retaliate over missile attack in Iraq

On the same morning the plane crashed, Iran launched missile attacks on Iraq bases where American, Canadian and allied troops were stationed, announcing the strikes as retaliation for Soleimani’s killing. U.S. officials now say it is “highly likely” that an Iranian anti-aircraft missile downed the jetliner.

“Precisely at that moment in time and just a few hours before, Iran was launching missiles at American air bases in Iraq and there is some speculation that a missile might have hit the plane,” Christie said. “I think that kind of uncertainty about what happened, and the fact that the Iranians have not handed over the black box … I think that uncertainty and ambiguity exacerbated all that worry and anxiety and tension.

“Part of that will be about closure, to know what happened in those final moments,” he added.

Canada has not yet commented on the news that Iran was “likely” behind the crash, but has condemned the Iranian strikes on Iraqi bases. Champagne told Iran’s foreign affairs minister that “Canadians have many questions which will need to be answered.”

RELATED: ‘Highly likely’ Iran downed Ukrainian jetliner: US officials

With files from the Associated Press.



nina.grossman@blackpress.ca

Follow us on Instagram
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

Court strikes down Sidney’s denial of proposed cannabis store

Justice Jennifer Power orders municipality to reconsider application and pay court costs

VicPD seeking witnesses for fatal crash on Hillside Avenue

A pedestrian was taken to hospital with life-threatening injuries, where she later died

VicPD searching for three men in connection to random assault that put two in hospital

If you see these men you’re asked to call VicPD’s non-emergency line

Public welcomed back to Sidney Spit ferry and camping ground

Service opens July 20 with new ferry contractor and other pandemic-related changes

B.C. ends short experiment with growler fills at restaurants

Province extends take-out sales of six-packs, wine

21 new COVID-19 cases confirmed in B.C. as virus ‘silently circulates’ in broader community

Health officials urge British Columbians to enjoy summer safely as surge continues

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of July 13

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Tough time for tree fruits as some B.C. farm products soar

Province reports record 2019 sales, largely due to cannabis

‘Let’s all do a self-check’: Okanagan mayor reacts to racist vandalism targeting local family

Home of Indo-Canadian family in Summerland was targeted on evening of July 13

Province agrees to multimillion-dollar payout for alleged victims of Kelowna social worker

Robert Riley Saunders is accused of misappropriating funds of children — often Indigenous — in his care

Feds fund safe drug supply pilot program for Cowichan

The opioid overdose crisis continues to be one of the most serious public health crises

B.C. businessman David Sidoo gets 3 months behind bars for college admissions scam

Sidoo was sentenced for hiring someone take the SATs in place of his two sons

PHOTOS: Inside a newly-listed $22M mega-mansion on ALR land in B.C.

The large home, located on ALR land, is one of the last new mansions to legally be built on ALR land

Most Read