Iran's President Helicopter Crash: President Raisi Dies!

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Iran was thrown into uncertainty Sunday as search and rescue teams scoured a fog-shrouded mountain area after President Ebrahim Raisi's helicopter went missing in what state media described as an "accident". Fears grew for the 63-year-old ultraconservative after contact was lost with the aircraft carrying him as well as Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and others in East Azerbaijan province, reports said. The supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, urged Iranians to "not worry" about the leadership of the Islamic Republic, saying "there will be no disruption in the country's work". "We hope that Almighty God will bring our dear president and his companions back in full health into the arms of the nation," he said in a nationally televised address as Muslim faithful prayed for Raisi's safe return.


Expressions of concern and offers to help came from abroad, including Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Russia, and Turkey, as well as from the European Union which activated its rapid response mapping service to aid in the search effort. Iran's foreign ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanani expressed gratitude to "governments and international organizations for their sympathy and offer of help in the search and rescue operations." State television first reported in the afternoon that "an accident happened to the helicopter carrying the president" in the Jolfa region. "The harsh weather conditions and heavy fog have made it difficult for the rescue teams to reach the accident site," said one broadcaster, as the massive search effort later continued into the night.

Iran's Red Crescent chief Pirhossein Koolivand told state TV the area of the accident "has yet to be identified" and that the situation remained "difficult". Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi said the helicopter "made a hard landing" in bad weather and that it was "difficult to establish communication" with the aircraft. He urged people to get their information "only from state television", and not listen to foreign media channels Iran deems hostile to the Islamic republic.

Iran's cabinet held an emergency meeting led by Vice President Mohammad Mokhber after the incident, IRNA reported. Raisi's convoy had included three helicopters, and the other two had "reached their destination safely", said the Tasnim news agency. More than 60 rescue teams using search dogs and drones were sent to the mountainous protected forest area of Dizmar near the town of Varzaghan, the IRNA news agency reported. Army, Revolutionary Guard, and police officers joined the search, authorities said, as TV stations showed pictures of Red Crescent teams walking up a hill in the mist, and rows of waiting emergency response vehicles.


Raisi had visited the northwestern province to inaugurate a dam project together with Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev, on their common border. Aliyev said in a post on X that "we were profoundly troubled by the news of a helicopter carrying the top delegation crash-landing in Iran". "Our prayers to Allah Almighty are with President Ebrahim Raisi and the accompanying delegation," he said, also offering "any assistance needed". Foreign countries were closely following the search at a time of high regional tensions over the Gaza war between Israel and Hamas since October 7 that has drawn in other armed groups in the Middle East. A US State Department spokesman said: "We are closely following reports of a possible hard landing of a helicopter in Iran carrying the Iranian president and foreign minister", adding that "we have no further comment at this time". US President Joe Biden has been briefed on the crash, an American official said on condition of anonymity.

One 37-year-old Tehran citizen, who gave his name only as Hadi, called Raisi "one of the servants of the people", and said "we hope that he and his companions are found in good health".


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