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COVID-19 presents new challenges for families of Iran plane crash victims

Last Updated Mar 26, 2020 at 12:00 pm EDT

OTTAWA — The COVID-19 pandemic is presenting new challenges for the already-frustrated families of 55 Canadians who were killed when their plane was shot down by Iran in January.

Hamed Esmaeilion is a Toronto-area dentist whose wife Parisa and nine-year-old daughter Reera were on Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752, which was shot down by the Iranian military on Jan. 8, killing all 176 people aboard.

In an interview with The Canadian Press today, Esmaeilion says the COVID-19 pandemic has forced the cancellation of several meetings between the families of those killed and Canadian officials.

Families had been hoping to get updates on an investigation into the crash and efforts to secure compensation from Iran and the airline.

Esmaeilion says it has also been difficult to self-isolate because of COVID-19 when he is still grieving his wife and daughter and struggling with frustration over Iran’s continued refusal to turn over the jetliner’s flight recorders.

Iran promised on March 11 to hand the black boxes over to Ukrainian authorities within two weeks to assist with Ukraine’s investigation into the crash, but has yet to do so.

Esmaeilion is urging the Canadian government not to let the pandemic distract from efforts to hold Iran to account for the crash and find justice for those who died.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 26, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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