Sat, 15 June 2024
The Daily Ittefaq

Helicopter carrying Iran's President Raisi crashes in mountains, official says

Update : 19 May 2024, 22:30

A helicopter carrying Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi made a "hard landing" on Sunday, said Ahmad Vahidi, Iran's interior minister.

"The esteemed president and company were on their way back aboard some helicopters and one of the helicopters was forced to make a hard landing due to the bad weather and fog," the minister said in comments aired on state TV.

The incident took place near the city of Jolfa in Iran's northwestern province of East Azerbaijan, Vahidi added, following earlier reports on state media.

Jolfa is located about 600 kilometers (375 miles) northwest of the Iranian capital, Tehran, on the border with Azerbaijan.

What do we know about the passengers?

The helicopter was carrying Raisi, Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian, East Azerbaijan Governor Malek Rahmati and several other passengers, state media reported.

According to the state news agency IRNA, rescue and relief teams have been dispatched to the area and search operations were continuing. However, foggy weather and the inaccessibility of the area have hampered the search efforts.

The semi-official Fars news agency called on Iranians to pray for Raisi following the reports. 

Later in the day, Reuters news agency cited an unnamed Iranian official as saying that 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," the official was quoted as saying on condition of anonymity.

Raisi was in Azerbaijan early Sunday to inaugurate a dam with the neighboring country's president, Ilham Aliyev. The dam is the third built by the two nations on the Aras River.

Who is Ebrahim Raisi?

Ebrahim Raisi is a hard-liner who previously headed the country's judiciary. He is seen as close to Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and some analysts have suggested he could replace the 85-year-old leader upon his death or resignation. 

Raisi won Iran's 2021 presidential election, a vote that saw the lowest voter turnout in the Islamic Republic's history (49%). 

Under Raisi, Iran has armed Russia in its war against Ukraine and launched a massive drone and rocket attack on Israel in the midst of its war against Hamas in Gaza. It has also continued to arm proxy groups in the Middle East, such as Yemen's Houthi rebels and Lebanon's Hezbollah.

In addition, Iran is now enriching uranium to near weapons-grade levels and obstructing international inspections. 

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