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Canadian Church leader 'dismayed' by loss of life in Iran plane tragedy

Friday, January 10, 2020, 19:53 (IST)

The Archbishop of Canada has spoken of her grief over a plane crash in Iran that killed all 176 people on board, many of whom were Canadian.

Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 came down outside of Tehran soon after take-off, giving rise to suspicions among Western powers that it was shot down. Among the victims of the tragedy were 63 Canadians.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters that intelligence from multiple sources suggested the plane had been shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile. He added that this may have been unintentional.

"This reinforces the need for a thorough investigation," he said. "Canadians have questions and they deserve answers."

Primate Linda Nicholls said that Canadians "have all been touched" by the loss of so many of their fellow countrymen onboard the flight.

"Once again we are dismayed by the enormity of destruction caused when an airplane crashes and takes the lives of dozens of people in a moment," she said.

"This tragedy takes on even more poignancy when those who have died lived in our communities and were our friends and neighbours."

She went on to encourage those in the "darkness of grief" to turn to the "light of Christ in our midst" to find "the possibility of hope".

"That hope is seen when we come together to remember, to grieve and to pray," she said.

"It is seen when people of all faiths stand in solidarity across Canada especially in the provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia where the victims lived.

"It is seen when we offer and remember the victims and their families in our prayers, not only now but in the weeks to come as their loss is fully realized.

"We especially pray for the Iranian community across Canada, from among whom came many of those who died."

The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC) paid tribute, too, echoing the call for prayer.

"The EFC expresses its deepest sympathies to the families of the 176 people, including 63 Canadians, who died in a plane crash yesterday near Tehran, Iran," it said.

"We invite all Canadians to join us in praying for God to bring help and comfort in this time of deep need and pain."