Iran President Ebrahim Raisi Feared Dead In Helicopter Crash

   

TEHRAN: Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi is feared dead following the crash of his helicopter in northwest Iran. State TV reported on Monday morning that there was “no sign of life” at the crash site. The helicopter, which was reported by Reuters to be “completely burned,” crashed Sunday afternoon in bad weather conditions.

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Ebrahim Raisi, The President of the Islamic Republic of Iran

The Iranian Red Crescent Society announced that the wreckage of President Raisi’s helicopter had been located early today. The crash site was detected by a Turkish Akinci unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). According to Iran-based Press TV, rescue teams have not found any signs of survivors. An Iranian official stated, “the condition is not good,” as reported by state news agency IRNA. The crash site is in a rugged area near Tawal village, making rescue operations challenging.

President Raisi was returning from a visit to Azerbaijan when the helicopter went down. Nine people were on board, including Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian, the Governor of Eastern Azerbaijan province Malek Rahmati, Tabriz’s Friday prayer Imam Mohammad Ali Alehashem, and several flight and security team members, according to Tasnim news.

In response to the crash, multiple countries have offered assistance in the ongoing search operations. Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his concern and solidarity with the Iranian people, praying for the well-being of Raisi and the other passengers.

State TV described the incident as a “hard landing” near Jolfa, close to the Azerbaijan border, though later reports placed the site nearer to the village of Uzi. Details remain contradictory, but the crash has sparked a massive rescue operation in the fog-shrouded forested region.

Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi, speaking on state TV, confirmed the presence of multiple rescue teams in the area, equipped with advanced tools but hampered by poor weather conditions. Images on state TV showed vehicles struggling through a wooded area under heavy rain and wind.

The rescue efforts continue as the nation waits for further updates. Hard-liners have urged the public to pray for Raisi, with scenes of mass prayers being broadcast from holy sites across Iran.

Raisi’s visit to Azerbaijan was part of an effort to improve relations between the two countries, despite recent tensions. The helicopter he was travelling in was a Bell 412, an older model that has become increasingly difficult to maintain due to international sanctions limiting access to spare parts.

President Raisi, 63, a hard-liner and former judiciary chief, has been seen as a potential successor to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Raisi’s presidency has been marked by a tough stance on international diplomacy, significant internal protests, and a controversial enrichment program that has brought Iran closer to weapons-grade uranium levels.

The crash adds to the complexities facing Iran, including recent military actions, economic struggles, and widespread civil unrest. The international community, including President Joe Biden, is closely monitoring the situation, although concrete details from Iranian state media remain sparse.

As rescue operations continue, the Iranian government has called for patience and prayers, acknowledging the challenging conditions and the nation’s anxiety over the fate of its president.

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