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OTTAWA — Canadian officials including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Transport Minister Marc Garneau have issued statements in the wake of the tragic crash of Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752.
“This morning, I join Canadians across the country who are shocked and saddened to see reports that a plane crash outside of Tehran, Iran, has claimed the lives of 176 people, including 63 Canadians,” said Prime Minister Trudeau.
Trudeau said the Canadian government “will continue to work closely with its international partners to ensure that this crash is thoroughly investigated, and that Canadians’ questions are answered.”
He added: “Today, I assure all Canadians that their safety and security is our top priority. We also join with the other countries who are mourning the loss of citizens.”
“On behalf of the Government of Canada, Sophie and I offer our deepest condolences to those who have lost family, friends, and loved ones in this tragedy.”
The UIA aircraft, operating as PS752, crashed minutes after takeoff from Tehran’s airport. There were 176 people onboard the plane including 63 Canadians. Iranian, Ukrainian, Swedish, Afghan, British and German nationals were also onboard.
The crash happened just hours after Iran’s ballistic missile attack on two Iraqi bases that house U.S. troops. Iranian officials said they suspected a mechanical issue brought down the aircraft, and Ukrainian officials initially agreed, but later backed away and declined to offer a cause while the investigation is ongoing. The plane was a relatively new B737-800. “We are in contact with our airline customer and stand by them in this difficult time,” Boeing said. “We are ready to assist in any way needed.”
UIA posted a PS752 passenger list on its site along with frequent updates and its official statement. “UIA expresses its deepest condolences to the families of the victims of the air crash and will do everything possible to support the relatives of the victims.”
Air Canada had adjusted its flight paths in the wake of tensions in the region. In a tweet posted in the early hours of Jan. 8 at @Transport_gc, Transport Canada said: “Air Canada, the only Canadian air carrier that operates in the region covered by the FAA NOTAM, has altered its routes to ensure the security of its flights into and over the Middle East.”
Transport Canada also says it’s monitoring the situation closely in the Middle East and is in close contact with the FAA in the U.S.
“My thoughts are with all those affected by the heartbreaking tragedy involving Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752 carrying many Canadians,” said Transport Minister Marc Garneau. “We are in touch with our international counterparts and Canada is offering technical assistance to the upcoming investigation.”
Air Canada is one of many commercial airlines rerouting flights throughout the Middle East. At least 500 commercial flights operated by airlines around the world travel through Iranian and Iraqi airspace daily. Updated schedules could effect as many as 15,000 passengers per day, lengthen flight times by an average of 30 to 90 minutes.
Airlines rerouting flights or cancelling flights over the region altogether include LOT, Air France, KLM, Lufthansa and two of its subsidiaries, Qantas, Malaysia Airlines, Singapore Airlines, flydubai, Etihad Airways, Emirates and more.
Air Canada has rerouted its flight from Toronto to Dubai through Egypt and Saudi Arabia to avoid travelling over Iraq.
The U.S. FAA said it was barring American pilots and carriers from flying in areas of Iraqi, Iranian and some Persian Gulf airspace. The agency warned of the “potential for miscalculation or misidentification” for civilian aircraft amid heightened tensions between the U.S. and Iran.
Global Affairs Canada’s 24/7 Emergency Watch and Response Centre can be reached at 613-996-8885 or 1-800-387-3124, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
With files from The Canadian Press and The Associated Press