Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne says he’s been in contact with his Ukrainian counterparts after a Ukraine International Airlines plane crashed just minutes after takeoff from Iran’s capital on Wednesday, killing everyone aboard, including reports of 63 Canadians.
“Tragic news regarding Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752. Our hearts are with the loved ones of the victims, including many Canadians,” tweeted the minister Wednesday morning.
“I have been in touch with the government of Ukraine. We will continue to keep Canadians informed as the situation evolves.”
Ukraine International Airlines said in a statement that preliminary information suggests there were 176 people on Flight PS752 — 167 passengers and nine crew. Ukraine’s foreign minister says 63 Canadians are among the dead.
The crash came just hours after Iran launched a ballistic missile attack on Iraqi bases housing U.S. soldiers. At first, both Ukrainian and Iranian officials said they suspected a mechanical issue brought down the Boeing 737-800 aircraft, but the Ukrainian Embassy in Iran later said any previous comments about the cause of the crash were not official.
Ukraine International Airlines, which has suspended flights to Tehran indefinitely, issued a statement that the aircraft was built in 2016 and underwent its last scheduled maintenance Monday.
“The airline 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,” the statement says.
Ukraine’s ambassador to Canada, Andriy Shevchenko, said his country is working with Iranian authorities on the ground to identify the dead and help their families.
Canada’s NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said the victims’ families “deserve clear answers.
“But whatever the cause, this is devastating. Love to their families, friends and communities, and to everyone touched by this tragedy.”
“Profoundly sad news of the deaths of 63 Canadians in the crash of UIA flight 752 in Iran,” he tweeted.
“Many Canadians were flying home to Toronto and today families are waking up to tragedy.”
Assembly of First Nations Chief Perry Bellegarde tweeted a reminder that “life is precious.”
Travel advisory for Canadians
Canada is urging Canadians to avoid non-essential travel to the Middle Eastern country “due to the volatile security situation and the regional threat of terrorism.
“Canadians, particularly dual Canadian-Iranian citizens, are at risk of being arbitrarily questioned, arrested and detained,” the warning adds.
“Iran does not recognize dual nationality and Canada will not be granted consular access to dual Canadian-Iranian citizens. Canadian-Iranian dual citizens should carefully consider the risks of travelling to Iran.”
The travel advisory makes no mention of the plane crash.
Boeing issued a statement on Twitter expressing condolences to the crew, passengers and families affected by the crash.
Earlier, spokesperson Michael Friedman told the AP the company was “aware of the media reports out of Iran and we are gathering more information.”
After the missile attack, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration issued a notice outlining flight restrictions prohibiting U.S. civil aviation operators from flying in the airspace over Iraq, Iran, and the waters of the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman.
Transport Canada followed up, tweeting that Air Canada, the only Canadian air carrier that operates in the region covered by the U.S. notice, has changed its routes in the region.
Ukrainian Foreign Affairs Minister Vadym Prystaiko said 82 Iranians and 11 Ukrainians were also aboard the plane, along with Swedish, Afghan, British and German nationals.