International News

Iran’s President Raisi Dies in Helicopter Crash: State Media Reports

Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi has tragically died following a helicopter crash, as announced by Iranian state media on Monday morning local time. The incident also claimed the lives of Iran’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and others on board.

Key Developments:

  • Initial Confirmation: Hossein Kolivand, the head of Iran’s Red Crescent, initially reported “no sign of life” from the crash site. The Red Crescent had located the missing helicopter, which had made a hard landing on Sunday in foggy conditions.
  • Search and Rescue Efforts: Search and rescue operations commenced shortly after the incident, with teams working under challenging weather conditions, including fog and rain. The crash occurred in the mountainous regions of Kalibar and Warzghan in central Iran.
  • Discovery of the Helicopter: The Red Crescent confirmed that they had found the helicopter, with teams moving towards the site. “We can see the helicopter and we are moving towards it,” said Kolivand, adding that they were about two kilometers away from the crash site.
  • International Assistance: President Joe Biden was briefed on the incident, and the U.S. State Department closely monitored the situation. Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the deployment of 50 rescuers, two planes, and one helicopter to aid in the search efforts. Turkey also contributed by sending an Akinci UAV and a Cougar-type helicopter with night vision capabilities.
  • Eyewitness Accounts and Statements: Ahmad Vahidi, Iran’s Interior Minister, confirmed on state TV that the helicopter had made a “rough landing” due to foggy weather. Ilham Aliyev, President of Azerbaijan, who was present at the dedication of the Khoda Afarin and Qiz Qalasi dams with Raisi, expressed his country’s readiness to assist in the search operations.
  • Condolences and Prayers: Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei issued a statement asking the nation to pray for Raisi and his companions, expressing hope for their safe return.

Details of the Incident:

  • The helicopter carrying President Raisi was one of three in a convoy transporting Iranian officials. It made a hard landing in poor weather conditions. Initially, 40 search-and-rescue teams were deployed to the area, but adverse weather hampered their efforts.
  • The president’s helicopter was en route from the dedication ceremony of the Khoda Afarin and Qiz Qalasi dams near Azerbaijan when it encountered trouble. Reports of issues with Raisi’s helicopter started circulating on state-affiliated media around 3:45 p.m. local time on Sunday.

Reactions and Statements:

  • U.S. and International Reactions: The White House and the U.S. State Department are closely monitoring the situation. President Biden received a briefing on the incident, underscoring the international concern.
  • Statements from Iranian Officials: Ahmad Vahidi, in his televised appearance, reiterated the challenging conditions and the government’s efforts to keep the public informed. “It is the right of the people and the media to be aware of the latest news about the president’s helicopter accident,” he said.
  • Support from Azerbaijan: President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan offered prayers and assistance, emphasizing the close ties between the two nations.

Ongoing Efforts:

  • As rescue operations continue, the Iranian government and international partners are working tirelessly to uncover the full details of the crash and ensure any necessary support is provided to the affected families and communities.

This tragic incident has cast a shadow over Iran, prompting an outpouring of condolences and solidarity from around the world. The loss of President Raisi and other top officials marks a significant moment in Iran’s history, with profound implications for its leadership and future.

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