By Vancouver Sun |

B.C.’s Iranian community was plunged into grief Wednesday after at least 13 people from this province with ties to Iran were among the 176 people killed when an airliner crashed into a field in Iran.

Ukrainian International Airlines Flight 752 had departed from Tehran’s international airport early Wednesday, bound for Kyiv, Ukraine, when it slammed into farmland on the outskirts of the capital shortly after takeoff. The eventual destination for the flight was Toronto.

“Everybody is shocked and everybody is deeply sad,” said Kei Esmaeilpour, president of the Civic Association of Iranian Canadians.

Esmaeilpour, who knew people killed in the crash, said Iranian Canadians in B.C. form a tight-knit community, now mourning together.

“For the close families it is much more difficult,” he said. “For the community members it is not acceptable, it is not a nice thing.”

Close to 48,000 people living in B.C. described their ethnic origin as Iranian during the last census, roughly a quarter of the 210,000 people of Iranian descent across the country. Most live on the North Shore and in the Tri-Cities, at the foot of the snow-capped mountains reminiscent of the Alborz mountain range adjacent to Tehran.

Esmaeilpour said community members are desperate for answers as to how and why they lost their loved ones. Investigators are working to determine what caused the plane to crash.

Passengers on the doomed plane included at least 63 Canadians, 82 Iranians, 11 Ukrainian passengers and crew, 10 Swedes, four Afghans, three Germans and three Britons. Canadian officials said some of those identified as Iranians could have been dual Canadian citizens travelling n Iranian passports.

More than a third were 30 or younger, according to the airline’s passenger list. Many were students returning from winter breaks.

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