All 176 passengers aboard the Ukraine International Airlines flight were killed after it crashed into a field outside Tehran. The Boeing 737-800 aircraft had taken off from Imam Khomeini International Airport in the Iranian capital.
The three Britons killed in a plane crash in Tehran have been unofficially identified as Mohammad Reza Kadkhoda Zadeh, 40, Saeed Tahmasebi Khademsadi, 35, and Sam Zokaei, 42.
The names of the passengers appeared on an unofficial passenger list posted on Facebook by a Ukrainian blogger. They included three people travelling on British passports. The Telegraph has confirmed the identities with neighbours, friends and relatives of the three people thought to have died.
It is not clear whether the incident is related to Iran’s missile attacks on US bases in Iraq on Wednesday morning.
Saeed Tahmasebi and his new bride Niloofar Ebrahim were only on the doomed flight from Tehran because they had waited behind in the Iranian capital to pick up their wedding photographs.
While friends and relatives flew back to London after the ceremony the blissfully happy couple spent a few more days in the city before flying home to start their life together.
Anxious about growing tension in the region following the US assasination of Iran’s top general their friends back in London remained in constant contact, even talking to the pair by phone 10 minutes before they boarded the flight.
Now they are mourning the loss of two people they described as “beautiful in every way”.
In tears, Mr Tahmasebi’s sister, Sally, 41, told The Telegraph: “They were a wonderful, beautiful couple and they were so happy together. This is too terrible for words. We cannot believe what has happened.
“Saeed was the nicest guy you could ever find. He would cause no harm to anybody. He was ready to help everybody whenever anyone needed help. He had the biggest heart and everyone who knew him loved him.”
Mr Tahmasebi, 35, a chartered engineer who was completing a PhD at Imperial College in London and worked as a principal engineer at Laing O’Rouke, had lived in London for 16 years and met Ms Ebrahim, who was studying a masters in psychology, a year ago.
The couple quickly fell in love and married in St John’s Wood in December before travelling back to Iran for a second marriage ceremony in their native country.
Mr Tahmasebi’s brother-in-law, Amir, said: “It’s heartbreaking. They were only in Tehran because they were waiting a few days for their wedding photographs before flying home.
“We all left to come back home earlier and were anxious about the situation because of what’s going on in the region. But when we spoke to them ten minutes before they boarded we thought everything was fine. Then we heard their flight had gone down. It’s terrible, absolutely terrible.”
Sally and Amir were gathered with friends at an apartment in Brentford today to mourn the loss of the couple. Their death has left them stunned and confused, with doubts over the causes of the crash now being aired widely across the region and in Britain.
One friend said: “Naturally we want to know what happened and we hope accurate details of what took place will come out.
“We are all in shock and upset at what’s happened. At the moment all we can do is mourn our friends, before we even begin to think about the causes of this terrible tragedy.”
Three other friends of Saeed Tahmasebi described him as a “very bright, very clever and smart” man who had a promising future as a structural engineer.
The trio, who did not want to be named, had last month attended Mr Tahmasebi’s wedding in St John’s Wood.
Mr Tahmasebi was highly regarded within the civil engineering sector.
He had worked in the construction industry for over 12 years, both in consultancy and contracting roles before joining the infrastructure team of Engineering Excellent Group at Laing O’Rourke in 2017.
His work included the design and construction of large and complex projects in the UK and overseas, including high rise hotels and residential buildings, rail stations, airports and Ministry of Defence installations, both in the UK and overseas, including the Middle East.
Before beginning his PhD at Imperial college Mr Tahmasebi graduated in Civil Engineering from the University of Greenwich in 2007 and completed a MSc in Structural Engineering at the University of Surrey in 2012.
A spokesman for Imperial College London said: “We are deeply saddened at this tragic news.
“Saeed Tahmasebi Khademasadi was a brilliant engineer with a bright future. His contributions to systems engineering earned respect from everyone who dealt with him and will benefit society for years to come.
“He was a warm, humble and generous colleague, and close friend to many in our community. Our thoughts and sincere condolences are with Saeed’s family, friends and colleagues, as well as all those affected by this tragedy.”
A spokesman for Laing O’Rourke paid tribute to Mr Tahmasebi, describing him as “popular and respected” colleague.
The firm said in a statement: “Everyone here is shocked and saddened by this very tragic news. Saeed was a popular and well respected engineer and will be missed by many of his colleagues.”
BP has confirmed that Mr Zokaei, 42, was on the flight. He was a senior engineer working for BP Exploration Operating Company. Mr Zokaei, who lived in south west London, had worked for the oil and gas company for 14 years. He was currently based in London, according to his LinkedIn networking page, but had worked in Angola, Egypt and Azerbaijan among others.
Mr Zokaei lived in a rented, well maintained four bedroom terrace house a short walk from Richmond town centre, with easy access to Heathrow Airport. Outside the property stood brightly coloured plant pots and recycling bins awaiting collection after the Christmas and New Year break.
Mr Zokaei graduated from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh with a masters in petroleum engineering in 2004. On his LinkedIn page he described himself as “a senior reservoir engineer with extensive technical and leadership experiences in reservoir performance, reservoir management and reservoir simulation”.
It is understood that Mr Zokaei was on holiday when the plane went down and was thought to be visiting relatives in the region.
Friends and colleagues at BP described his death as “tragic” and “deeply upsetting”.
The company said in a statement: “With the deepest regret, we can confirm that one of our colleagues at BP, Sam Zokaei, was a passenger on the Ukrainian International Airlines plane that crashed in Iran this morning, reportedly with no survivors.
“We are shocked and deeply saddened by this tragic loss of our friend and colleague, and all of our thoughts are with his family and friends.”
A neighbour of Mr Zokaei’s in North Sheen, near Richmond, said: “This is such awful news. He was a very nice man, always very friendly and polite.
“He often worked away from home for several weeks on end, but whenever I saw him he would wave and say hello.”
Mohammed Reza Kadkhoda-Zadeh, 40, is understood to have travelled to Iran to see family over the Christmas period and was returning to the UK via Ukraine.
The father-of-one, who lived a three-bedroom terraced house in Brighton, East Sussex ran a dry cleaning business, Smarty’s, in nearby Hassocks.
Friends and neighbours described paid tribute to the “quiet, polite and lovely” businessman after hearing of the tragedy.
A student who rented a room in his house said: “He’s very lovely man. He is friendly and polite and we get on very well indeed. I am renting a room here and studying in Brighton to improve my English and we got along very well right from the start.
“He had gone to Iran to see friends and I think some family over Christmas and was due back today.”
Mohammed, who was known to friends as ‘Reza’, was a divorced and father to a nine-year-old girl.
Stephen Edgington, who runs Hassocks Pet Centre next to Mr Smarty’s dry cleaner, said: “It is so shocking and it is very upsetting for everyone who knew him. He was a lovely man, very quiet and polite but a really nice guy – we got on very well indeed and it is a tragedy.”
Mr Kadkhoda-Zadeh’s daughter would often sit in the pet centre so she could stroke the cats there.
“She is a lovely girl and both his ex-wife and him were very nice people. You couldn’t fault him. It is such a shock.”