Lethbridge Herald

Iran gives TSB access to plane wreckage

TRUDEAU HOPES TO SEE DE-ESCALATION IN AREA

- Jordan Press THE CANADIAN PRESS — OTTAWA

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 today, 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-toair missiles took down the Boeing 737800, but called it a horrible mistake.

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