Transportation safety board wants answers in Iran plane crash, chair says

Canadian investigators expected to get access to crash site near Tehran and remains of the plane

B’nai Brith CEO Michael Mostyn, right to left, and B’nai Brith Senior Legal Counsel David Matas are joined by Iranian-Canadian community leaders Avideh Motmaen-Far and Reza Banai as they hold a press conference at the National Press Theatre in Ottawa on Monday, Jan. 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Canadian air-crash investigators are being given access to the wreckage and have been tapped to help unlock the contents of the data recorders from a Ukraine International Airlines plane downed by an Iranian missile last week.

The two investigators are to get their first chance to visit the crash site outside of Tehran on Tuesday, as part of an international team looking into the sequence of events that ended with Flight PS752 shot out of the sky, killing all 176 people on board.

The victims include 57 Canadians, as well as dozens more who were en route to Canada.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says they would all be safely back in Canada if tensions between Iran and the United States had not escalated recently.

“I think if there were no tensions, if there was no escalation recently in the region, those Canadians would be right now home with their families,” Trudeau said in an interview Monday with Global News, noting that in any conflict “it is always the innocent who get sideswiped.”

The aircraft was shot down just hours after Iran launched air strikes against two military bases in Iraq where U.S. forces — and also some Canadians — are stationed. The air strikes were in retaliation for a Jan. 3 targeted drone strike by the U.S. that killed Iran’s top general, Qassem Soleimani.

Trudeau said he’s spoken to U.S. President Donald Trump about the need to de-escalate tensions. He also confirmed that the U.S. gave Canada no heads up that it was planning a strike against Soleimani, something Trudeau said he “obviously” would have preferred.

Kathy Fox, the head of the Transportation Safety Board, said Monday afternoon she expects Canadian investigators will have access to the remains of the plane that are being reconstructed elsewhere, with Iran leading the investigation under international rules.

She added that TSB investigators have been asked about their technical expertise in downloading data from the flight recorders, known as “black boxes,” which were damaged in the incident.

The access to the wreckage and possibly the data recorders is more than the minimum Canadians are allowed under international rules that guide such investigations, with Fox calling Iran’s level of co-operation encouraging.

Still, Fox said she would be pushing those boundaries to ensure answers for families of the 57 Canadians on board.

She also warned that the TSB will speak out if it believes the probe isn’t complete and transparent.

“We all want answers and sharing information is a cornerstone of trust,” Fox said. “The world deserves to know how and why events unfolded as they did.”

After initially denying it shot down the Ukraine airliner, Iran admitted over the weekend that one of its own surface-to-air missiles took down the Boeing 737-800, but called it a horrible mistake.

The Canadian Press has independently confirmed at least 86 victims with ties to Canada, many of them students and professors returning after spending the December break visiting relatives in Iran.

Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne tweeted Monday afternoon that Iran has approved all the needed visas for Canadian consular officials who are helping grieving families in Iran.

Later Monday, his office announced he is travelling to London for a meeting of the international co-ordination and response group for the families of those who died in the crash. The meeting, to be held Thursday, involves Canada, Ukraine, Sweden, Afghanistan and the United Kingdom and is expected to include a discussion of how families and loved ones should be compensated.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Central Westcoast Forest Society is searching for wood and trees

Scrap wood will be used to help rebuild the local salmon populations near Tofino and Ucluelet.

UPDATED: Tofino-Ucluelet highway reopens after bridge installed earlier than expected

Hwy. 4 now open to all vehicles, including delivery trucks and RVs

UPDATED: Ucluelet and Tofino mayors call for “calmness” and “empathy” as highway closure cuts communities off from supplies

Ministry of transportation expects to open road for “essential travel only” from noon-8 p.m. Friday.

Tofino shakes up emergency notification service

“You can download maps and it has more functionality.”

Officials reaching out to those in contact with Canada’s first coronavirus patient

The illness has sickened at least 1,975 people and killed 56 in China

Canada’s basketball community mourns Kobe Bryant after helicopter crash

Bryant was an 18-time NBA all-star who won five championships

‘Devastated’: Fans, celebrities remember Kobe Bryant after his death

Bryant played all of his 20-year career with the NBA with the Los Angeles Lakers

Investigation launched after six dead puppies dumped in Richmond hotel parking lot

RAPS reminds people they can always give up puppies they can’t take care of

Canadian Lunar New Year celebrations dampened by coronavirus worries

But Health Minister Patty Hajdu said today that the risk of infection is low

B.C. VIEWS: New coronavirus outbreak an important reminder

Walking the line between cautious and alarmist

Kobe Bryant, daughter killed in California helicopter crash

Bryant entered the NBA draft straight out of high school in 1996

Risk of coronavirus low in B.C. as first case emerges in Toronto: officials

There have been no confirmed cases of the virus in B.C.

Most Read