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Canada’s Justin Trudeau cites US ratcheting up tensions with Iran in plane’s downing

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Victims of an Iran-downed jetliner would still be alive if not for a recent escalation of tensions partly triggered by the United States, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Monday.

“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 with Global television, according to a transcript shared with other media.

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He added that the international community has been “very, very clear about needing to have a non-nuclear Iran” but also in “managing the tensions in the region that are brought about by US actions as well.”

The Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737 was shot down by a missile shortly after taking off from Tehran before dawn last Wednesday, killing all 176 on board.

By Ottawa’s count, 57 of the passengers were Canadian citizens, many of them dual Iranian nationals.

Longstanding US-Iran tensions have soared since January 3 when missiles fired from a US drone killed a top Iranian commander, Qasem Soleimani, near Baghdad’s airport.

Iran responded with a barrage of missiles at two US bases in Iraq, inflicting no casualties in what was seen as an attempt to prevent a spiral of escalation.

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But hours later, an Iranian Revolutionary Guard unit mistakenly shot down the Ukrainian passenger jet, in what Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called a “human error.”

Trudeau also said he would have “obviously” liked a heads-up from Washington about the drone strike on Soleimani.

– ‘Somebody’s responsible’ –

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Over the weekend, Trudeau demanded that Iran provide Canada with “full clarity” on the airliner shootdown.

The prime minister said he made the demand in a call with Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani, who admitted earlier Saturday that the airliner was mistakenly shot down by Iranian missiles.

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At a televised press conference on Saturday, Trudeau said he told Rouhani the admission was “an important step” but “many more steps must be taken.”

“A full and complete investigation must be conducted,” he said. “We need full clarity on how such a horrific tragedy could have occurred.”

“Iran must take full responsibility,” Trudeau said.

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A Toronto law student who lost his mother in the crash echoed Trudeau’s statement in an interview with AFP.

“Once you start to cope with the sorrow a little bit, then came the tragic news that it was downed by a missile, and it was almost as if she died again,” Amirali Alavi said.

The 27-year-old said that “thinking how it could have been avoided, how somebody’s responsible for it” made him furious and inconsolable.

The accident was a deep blow to the Iranian community in Canada, which is home to North America’s largest Iranian diaspora. According to the last census, there were 210,000 Canadians of Iranian origin living in this country in 2016.

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“I am, of course, outraged and furious that families across this country are grieving the loss of their loved ones, that the Iranian-Canadian community is suffering so greatly, that all Canadians are shocked and appalled at the senseless loss of life,” Trudeau said Saturday.

“It’s a huge tragedy for the entire country and not just for the Iranian community.”

Asked whether Ottawa would demand that Tehran pay financial compensation to the families of Canadian victims, Trudeau indicated that it would.

The prime minister also said he insisted to Rouhani that Canada be allowed to participate in the investigation.

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Three members of a Canadian rapid deployment team flying to Tehran will have access to the plane’s wreckage and blackboxes, Iranian officials confirmed Monday.


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WATCH: Franklin Graham tells Jeanine Pirro coronavirus pandemic is because of people sinning

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Franklin Graham blamed sinners for the COVID-19 coronavirus epidemic during a Saturday night appearance on Fox News.

Host Jeanine Pirro noted the growing death toll and wondered how God could let that happen.

"Well, I don't think it's God's plan for this to happen," Graham said.

"It's because of the sin that's in the world, judge," he argued.

"Man has turned his back on God, we have sinned against him, and we need to ask for God's forgiveness and that's what Easter's all about," he continued.

"This pandemic, this is the result of a fallen world that has turned its back on God," he added.

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Drought causing water shortage amid coronavirus crisis in Chile

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With historically low river flows and reservoirs running dry due to drought, people in central Chile have found themselves particularly vulnerable to the coronavirus pandemic.

Years of resource exploitation and lax legislation have allowed most reservoirs in that part of the country to run dry.

"There are now 400,000 families, nearly 1.5 million people approximately, whose supply of 50 liters of water a day depends on tankers," Rodrigo Mundaca, spokesman for the Movement for the Defense of Water, the Earth and the Protection of the Environment, told AFP.

One of the main pieces of advice to protect people against coronavirus is to wash your hands regularly.

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Trump warns of ‘tough week’ ahead — after the United States surpassed 300,000 coronavirus victims

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US President Donald Trump warned Americans on Saturday to brace for a "very horrendous" number of coronavirus deaths in the coming days as the total number of global fatalities from the pandemic soared past 60,000.

As confirmed COVID-19 cases in the United States surpassed 300,000 with more than 8,300 deaths, there was some encouraging news in Italy and Spain.

Europe continues to bear the brunt of the epidemic, however, accounting for over 45,000 of the worldwide deaths, and Britain reported a new daily high in fatalities.

There are now more than 1.17 million confirmed coronavirus cases around the world and there have been 63,437 deaths since the virus emerged in China late last year.

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