A first-year University of Victoria student was among the 176 passengers killed in a plane crash in Iran’s capital on Wednesday morning.
Saul Klien, professor and dean of the Gustavson School of Business, confirmed she was a student in the bachelor of commerce program. “Our hearts and prayers go out to her family and friends in this tragic loss,” he told Black Press Media in an email.
Roja Omidbakhsh’s name was on the passenger manifest released by Ukraine International Airlines and is identified in social media posts as a student at UVic, according to a statement on the university’s website.
At least 11 people from B.C. were on the Boeing 737-800. Dozens of Canadians — some believed to be university students — were among those killed when Ukranian International Airlines Flight PS752 crashed minutes after takeoff from Tehran’s main airport.
Omidbakhsh was in professor Mark Colgate’s commerce class for her first term at UVic.
“Roja was very positive and had a keen interest in marketing. She was on the pathway to complete a bachelor of commerce,” Colgate said in a statement. “We’re heartbroken that this happened and our condolences go to her family and classmates.”
No one on the plane survived.
The plane was en route to Kyiv when it went down in a field. Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko said the plane was carrying 63 Canadians, 82 Iranians, 11 Ukrainian passengers, 10 Swedes, four Afghans, three Germans and three Britons.
Direct flights between Iran and Canada have not flown since 2012, and there are no diplomatic relations between the two countries. The route from Tehran-Kiev-Toronto was a popular and inexpensive one.
UVic president Jamie Cassels extended condolences on behalf of the university. “The University of Victoria expresses its sympathy to all of the families and friends of those who perished in the crash,” Cassels said. “It is always a profound loss for the entire community when we lose someone, and our hearts and thoughts to out to Roja’s loved ones. UVic extends its deepest condolences as we join in mourning her loss.”
According to Cassels, counselling and support is available to members of the campus community who may have been affected by this tragic event.
Ukrainian authorities initially said it appeared mechanical failure was to blame, but later walked that back, saying nothing had been ruled out.
— With files from the Canadian Press and Ashley Wadhwani