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20 May, 2024 04:36

Iranian president confirmed dead in helicopter crash

Ebrahim Raisi, 63, was elected president in 2021, after a decades-long career in the judiciary
Iranian president confirmed dead in helicopter crash

Iranian state media have confirmed that President Ebrahim Raisi was killed in a helicopter crash on Sunday in the country's northwestern East Azerbaijan province. 

His entire entourage, including Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and Governor of East Azerbaijan Malek Rahmati, also perished.

The head of state had traveled to the border region after joining Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev on Saturday to inaugurate a dam. Raisi had pledged to visit each of Iran’s 30 provinces at least once a year, and regularly traveled around the country.

Reports of a “crash landing” began circulating on Sunday afternoon, with Iranian state media citing Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi. IRNA news agency reported dense fog in the mountainous area where the aircraft went down.

Raisi was traveling in a US-made Bell 212. Low visibility and the impassibility of the area made search operations difficult, IRNA wrote.

Rescue teams finally managed to locate the crash site on Monday morning with the help of Turkish surveillance drones. 

The wreckage was discovered in a wooded area on a mountain slope. The aircraft was severely damaged and charred, and there were no signs of survivors, the Iranian Red Crescent Society said.

With Raisi’s passing, First Vice President Mohammad Mokhber is expected to take office as interim leader.

A representative of the republic’s conservative wing, Raisi, was elected in 2021. Before assuming the presidency, he had worked his way up from Prosecutor and Deputy Prosecutor in Tehran in the 1980s and 1990s all the way to attorney general, and later chief justice.