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Helicopter carrying Iran’s President Raisi crashes, search under way

  • Harsh weather conditions, heavy fog making difficult for rescue teams to reach accident site, Iranian media reports
Published May 19, 2024 Updated May 20, 2024
A helicopter carrying President Ebrahim Raisi takes off, May 19, 2024. Photo: Reuters
A helicopter carrying President Ebrahim Raisi takes off, May 19, 2024. Photo: Reuters

A helicopter carrying Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi and Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian was involved in “an accident” in poor weather conditions on Sunday, state media reported, with a search underway and no news yet on their conditions.

“An accident happened to the helicopter carrying the president” in the Jofa region of the western province of East Azerbaijan, state television said.

One of the helicopters in a convoy carrying Iran’s president Ebrahim Raisi had a rough landing, the country’s interior minister, Ahmed Vahidi, confirmed to state TV, adding that rescue teams were being hampered by difficult weather conditions.

“The harsh weather conditions and heavy fog have made it difficult for the rescue teams to reach the accident site,” state TV said in an on-screen news alert.

An Iranian official said the lives of Raisi and Amirabdollahian were “at risk following the helicopter crash”.

“We are still hopeful but information coming from the crash site is very concerning,” said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

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State TV broadcast footage of an Iranian Red Crescent team walking up a slope in thick fog, as well as live footage of crowds of worshippers reciting prayers in the holy Shrine of Imam Reza in the city Mashhad, Raisi’s hometown.

Sunday’s accident happened in the mountainous protected forest area of Dizmar near the town of Varzaghan, said the official IRNA news agency.

According to some local media, Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and local officials were travelling in the same helicopter as Raisi.

Raisi was visiting East Azerbaijan province on Sunday where he inaugurated a dam project in the company of his Azeri counterpart, Ilham Aliev, on the border between the two countries.

Raisi, 63, has been president of the Islamic Republic since June 2021.

His convoy included three helicopters, and the other two had “reached their destination safely,” according to Tasnim news agency.

Hamas attacks on Israeli on October 7, followed by Israeli aggression in Gaza sent regional tensions soaring again and a series of tit-for-tat escalations led to Tehran launching hundreds of missiles and rockets directly at Israel in April 2024.

US forces shot down drones launched at Israel from Iran: reports

In a speech following Sunday’s dam inauguration, Raisi emphasised Iran’s support for Palestinians, a centrepiece of its foreign policy since the 1979 Islamic revolution.

“We believe that Palestine is the first issue of the Muslim world and we are convinced that the people of Iran and Azerbaijan always support the people of Palestine and Gaza and hate the Zionist regime,” said Raisi.

Raisi, born in 1960 in northeast Iran’s holy city of Mashhad, rose early to high office. Aged just 20, he was named prosecutor-general of Karaj next to Tehran.

He served as Tehran’s prosecutor-general from 1989 to 1994, deputy chief of the Judicial Authority for a decade from 2004, and then national prosecutor-general in 2014.

Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif sent prayers and wishes for the safety of Iranian president Raisi and others.

“Deeply concerned to hear news about the helicopter incident carrying the Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, Foreign Minister Abdullahian & others. My heartfelt prayers & good wishes for the well-being & safety of President Raisi so that he may continue to serve the Iranian nation,” the statement from The President of Pakistan said.

“Heard the distressing news from Iran regarding Hon. President Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi’s helicopter. Waiting with great anxiety for good news that all is well. Our prayers and best wishes are with Hon.President Raisi and the entire Iranian nation,” PM Shehbaz wrote.

Turkey sends mountain rescue teams to Iran: emergency agency

Turkey is sending 32 mountain rescue specialists to help Iran in the search for the helicopter carrying President President Ebrahim Raisi, the government’s emergency aid agency AFAD said on Sunday.

The team and 32 vehicles have been deployed from centres in eastern Turkey said AFAD, in a post on X, formerly Twitter. Tehran says the president’s helicopter has gone missing on a fog-shrouded mountainside.


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test May 19, 2024 10:15pm
Eyebrows are raised because i don't believe this incident to be a normal one could have been in case of civilian but not with the president. There would have been something wrong with Elite class mind
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test May 20, 2024 12:02am
It reminds me how elite class murdered Zia ul Haq and Benazir Bhutto and John F Kennedy and Abe Shinzo as well others. Anyway i hope that president of their country would be alright but it's just hope
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