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

COLUMN: Pre-clearance changes at Canadian airports

Some believe these expanded powers may be contrary to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

Okanagan among Canada’s most at-risk habitats: WWF report

Report found the Okanagan is inadequately protected despite being a hotspot for at-risk species

Four things ‘not’ to do if you run into Prince Harry and Meghan in B.C.

Like many in British Columbia, you may be worried about running into… Continue reading

Almost 20,000 parking tickets issued by Interior Health at hospitals in 2019

In 2018, pay parking in Interior Health hospitals totalled $5.3 million of their $2.2-billion budget

Chilliwack on the map for Salmon Arm Roots and Blues

Canadian music legends confirmed for 28th annual music festival

B.C.-based firefighting plane crashes in Australia, killing three

Three people are confirmed dead in the crash in New South Wales

Canada prepares as WHO decides whether to declare global coronavirus emergency

The city of Wuhan, China, has shut down outbound flights and trains

Survey finds support among Canadians for broader assisted-dying law

The survey was conducted Jan. 17 to 21 among 1,552 Canadians eligible to vote

Doctors dispute need for Salmon Arm urgent and primary care centre

Medical professionals would rather see investment in local Primary Care Network

Veteran B.C. journalist battles cancer through pioneering immunotherapy treatment

Vancouver Island rallies around JR Rardon and family during stay in Seattle

New nasal spray launched in Canada to combat hypoglycemic shock in diabetics

Baqsimi is a nasal spray contains three milligrams of glucagon

Prices for recreational marijuana in B.C. down from a year ago

New inflation figures show gasoline, housing and certain kinds of food cost more

B.C. RCMP spent roughly $750K on massive manhunt for Port Alberni men

Manitoba RCMP helped with 17-day search through the province’s northern terrain

Most Read