Iran plane crash: University of Alberta says at least 10 faculty, students and alumi among those killed in airliner tragedy
Published Wednesday, January 8, 2020 2:26PM MST Last Updated Thursday, January 9, 2020 5:36PM MST
EDMONTON -- The University of Alberta says at least 10 members of its community, including faculty, students and alumni, were among those killed when Ukrainian International Airlines flight PS752 went down minutes after taking off from Tehran’s main international airport on Wednesday morning.
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An emotional school president David Turpin declined to confirm any specific identities while speaking to reporters Wednesday afternoon.
"We cannot confirm the exact numbers and names of the individuals," he said.
"Everyone on campus today is mourning the incredible loss of talent. These are wonderful people who have already contributed so much to our institution and had such bright futures ahead of them."
Turpin says the university will hold a vigil in the "very near future."
"This will take a long time for us to recover from."
CTV News Edmonton has confirmed 13 Edmontonians were on board the flight, but the Iranian Heritage Society of Edmonton says at least 27 local residents were on the plane.
NEWLYWEDS AMONG THE VICTIMS
Friends of Pouneh Gorji and Arash Pourzarabi say the pair, as well as guests from the Edmonton area, had been in Tehran to get married.
"They were basically the kindest souls that I know, honestly," said friend Amir Forouzandeh.
"If you met them even once you could tell that these two belong together for sure."
The pair were both University of Alberta graduate students who were studying computer science. Gorji interned at local artifical intelligence firm Medo.ai, according to her LinkedIn page. Pourzarabi is listed as a teaching assistant at the school.
"Actually I’m in a big denial right now. I can’t understand what’s going on," said the couple's friend Amir Samani.
"I even check my phone to see if he is online again."
FAMILY OF FOUR
CTV News has confirmed that husband and wife Pedram Mousavi and Mojgan Daneshmand, both engineering professors, as well as their two daughters are among the dead.
The university's website lists Mousavi as a professor of mechanical engineering whose work focused on communication and developing multi-purpose wireless devices. He graduated from the Iran University of Science & Technology in 1995 and later earned a master's degree and PhD from the University of Manitoba.
Daneshmand was also a professor with the electrical and computer engineering department. She held a bachelor of science from the Iran University of Science and Technology as well as graduate degrees from the Universitites of Manitoba and Waterloo. Her research focused on radio frequency and microwave systems for sensing.
The couple's two daughters, Darina, and Darya Mousavi are also listed among the dead. Darina was born in 2010 and Daria in 2005, according to the flight manifest. They attended Allendale and Windsor Park schools.
Nooran Ostadeian is a friend of the family. She has known them since 2010 when they moved to Edmonton.
“I witnessed the kids growing up in this family, and most of the time was good occasions, birthdays, community events, we always got together. This couple, they were really really fun to hang out with,” she told CTV News Edmonton.
“We know Mojgan’s mom very well because she was living with them for years, and she is now in Iran, and I’m sure she is suffering for sure. We know the whole family.”
TEACHING ASSISTANTS AND GRAD STUDENTS
CTV News is working to confirm the identities of other Edmonton-area victims.
Earlier Wednesday, Alberta Advanced Education Minister Demetrios Nicolaides listed the names of nine individuals with U of A affiliations in a Facebook post.
Mohammad Mahdi Elyasi published two academic articles in 2019 while affiliated with the U of A's department of mechanical engineering.
Elnaz Nabiyi is listed among as a graduate research assistant fellowship recipient at the PhD office of the school of business.
Sisters Saba and Sara Saadat were both students at the school.
Ghazal Nourian's connection to the U of A is unclear, and was among the four Western University students killed in the crash.