Canada matching donations to fund for Iran plane families

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TORONTO (AP) — Canada's federal government said Wednesday it will match donations to a fund set up to help families of those who died in the downing of a Ukrainian jetliner in Iran this month.

Parliamentary Secretary Omar Algabra said the government will match individual donations to the Canada Strong fund, up to a total of $1.5 million Canadian (US$1.5 million.) Algabra said $600,000 Canadian (US$457,000) has been raised so far. He said the funds will be used to support families as they navigate the long term impact of their tragic loss.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau already announced his government would immediately give Canadian $25,000 (US$19,122) to the families of each of the 57 citizens and 29 permanent residents of Canada who died.

Trudeau still expects Iran to compensate the families but has said they need help now for funerals, travel to Iran and bills.

Iran downed the plane as it braced for possible American retaliation after firing ballistic missiles at two bases in Iraq housing U.S. forces. The missile attack, which caused no U.S. casualties, was a response to the killing of Iran's top general.

Iran said the downing of the plane was unintentional.

Trudeau has described it as a Canadian tragedy because 138 of the passengers were headed for Canada. They included students, newlyweds, doctors and parents. The youngest was a 1-year-old girl.

Toronto businessman Mohamad Fakih, president of Paramount Fine Foods, organized the fund that the government is now matching.

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