A student visiting her family in Iran was one of the 176 passengers who perished on the Ukraine-bound flight which crashed shortly after takeoff.
Sara Saadat, 23, was travelling back to the US to resume classes at the Alliant International University in Scripps Ranch, California when the Ukraine International Airlines Flight crashed on Wednesday (local time).
Ms Saadat’s mother Shekoufeh and sister Saba were also killed in the crash.
The university confirmed Sara’s death in a statement made on Facebook.
“We extend our deepest sympathies to family and friends of Alliant student Sara Saadat,” the San Diego university’s statement said.
“It appears that Sara was visiting family in Iran and was on her way back to San Diego to begin our spring 2020 term in our PsyD in Clinical Psychology program.”
Ms Saadat graduated from Canada’s University of Alberta in 2019 with a Bachelor of Psychology.
Her sister, Saba, was studying at the University of Alberta to get a degree in biological sciences.
According to a friend who paid tribute to the sisters on Twitter, Ms Saadat aspired to be a clinical psychologist and Saba was “on her way” to medical school.
“You both were so kind and hardworking & I always admired you,” the friend said.
“The world doesn’t deserve to go on without you in it.”
Of the 176 passengers, 63 people were Canadian and 10 of them were members of the University of Alberta.
The university is holding a memorial service for the students, past and present, and professors.
“We are grieving for lost colleagues, classmates, teachers, and mentors, as well as loved ones, family, friends, and roommates,” the University of Alberta President and Vice Chancellor David H. Turpin said in a blog post, announcing the memorial would be held on January 12.
Khan Communication Services, a program from Alberta which provides speech pathology and occupational therapy services also paid tribute to Ms Saadat, who volunteered for the organisation, on Facebook.
“You were a wonderful Chatter volunteer and you will be missed greatly. So sorry to lose you in this tragic event,” the tribute said.
The crash came days after an airstrike carried out by the United States killed Iranian General Qassem Soleimani and initially suspected to have been caused by mechanical issues, according to local news outlet ISNA.
Iran admitted its military “unintentionally” shot down the Ukrainian jetliner after the government had repeatedly denied Western accusations it was responsible.
A military statement released to state media said the plane was mistaken for a “hostile target” after it turned toward a “sensitive military centre” of the Revolutionary Guard.
The military was at its “highest level of readiness”, it said, amid the heightened tensions with the US.
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