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Helicopter carrying Iran’s President Raisi crashes

19 May 2024 Helicopter carrying Iran’s President Raisi crashes

Tehran, Iran – A helicopter carrying Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and his foreign minister crashed on Sunday as it was crossing mountain terrain in heavy fog, while rescuers were struggling to reach the site of the incident, an Iranian official told Reuters.

The official said the lives of Raisi and Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian were “at risk following the helicopter crash”, which happened on the way back from a visit to the border with Azerbaijan in Iran’s northwest.

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

The exact location of the helicopter carrying President Raisi ‘is unknown as search and rescue teams are braving adverse weather conditions and challenging terrain to locate the site’, Islamic Republic News Agency reported.

‘The weather is extremely foggy, which is making the rescue efforts very difficult,’ it added.

Iranian state media said bad weather was the cause of the crash and was complicating rescue efforts. The chief of staff of Iran’s army ordered all the resources of the army and the elite Revolutionary Guard to be put to use in search and rescue operations.

“It is dark and it has started raining, but the search continues. Rescue teams have reached the area … however, the rain has created mud, making the search difficult,” a reporter told state TV.

State TV had earlier stopped all its regular programming to show prayers being held for Raisi across the country and, in a corner of the screen, live coverage of rescue teams on foot in the mountainous area in heavy fog.

Babak Yektaparast, spokes-man for the National Emergency Organisation, said that emergency medical teams consisting of technicians and doctors were deployed to the site immediately after the incident was reported.

He added that an emergency helicopter was also dispatched to provide assistance, but was forced to turn back due to the heavy fog, as it was unable to land in the area.

Iran’s Interior Minister Ahmed Vahidi confirmed to state TV that there had been an accident involving one of the helicopters in Raisi’s convoy.

Iran flies a variety of helicopters in the country, but international sanctions make it difficult to obtain parts for them. Its military air fleet also largely dates back to before the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Agencies

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