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Iranian President Raisi, foreign minister Amirabdollahian die in helicopter crash

Rescue teams fought blizzards and difficult terrain through the night to reach the wreckage

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi died along with his foreign minister when his helicopter crashed, Iran’s Mehr news agency said on Monday.

The agency reported that “all passengers of helicopter carrying Iranian President, foreign minister were martyred” when their helicopter crashed as it was crossing mountain terrain in heavy fog.

According to Mehr, the helicopter carried several dignitaries, including Iran’s East Azerbaijan Province Governor Malek Rahmati, and Ayatollah Mohammad Ali Ale-Hashem, the representative of the Leader of the Islamic Revolution to East Azarbaijan province.

After search teams located the wreckage in East Azerbaijan province, a senior Iranian official also confirmed to Reuters that “all the passengers in the helicopter were killed in the crash”.

State TV reported that images from the site showed the aircraft slammed into a mountain peak, although there was no official word on the cause of the crash.

State news agency IRNA said Raisi was flying in a US-made Bell 212 helicopter.

Raisi, 63, was elected president in 2021, and since taking office has ordered a tightening of morality laws, overseen a bloody crackdown on anti-government protests and pushed hard in nuclear talks with world powers.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei had earlier sought to reassure Iranians, saying there would be no disruption to state affairs.

Prayer and searches

Rescue teams fought blizzards and difficult terrain through the night to reach the wreckage in the early hours of Monday.

“With the discovery of the crash site, no signs of life have been detected among the helicopter’s passengers,” the head of Iran’s Red Crescent, Pirhossein Kolivand, told state TV.

Earlier, the national broadcaster had stopped all regular programming to show prayers being held for Raisi across the country.

In the early hours of Monday, it showed a rescue team, wearing bright jackets and head torches, huddled around a GPS device as they searched a pitch-black mountainside on foot in a blizzard.

Several countries expressed concern and offered assistance in any rescue, including UAE and Iraq.

The White House said US President Joe Biden had been briefed on reports about the crash. China said it was deeply concerned. The European Union offered emergency satellite mapping technology.

President Raisi was returning with Amirabdollahian and several others from a ceremony to inaugurate a dam on Iran’s border with the Azerbaijan Republic, when his helicopter crashed upon landing in Varzaqan region on Sunday.

Source: Khaleej Times



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