Articles

Fate of Iranian President uncertain after helicopter crash

Amr Al Housni

May. 19, 2024 • 3 min read
Image of Fate of Iranian President uncertain after helicopter crash Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi during a meeting with his Azeri counterpart at the site of Qiz Qalasi. A helicopter in the convoy of the Iranian president was involved in "an accident" in East Azerbaijan province on May 19, state televsion reported. (Photo by Iranian Presidency / AFP)

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and officials were involved in a helicopter accident in East Azerbaijan amid poor weather, sparking nationwide prayers and international assistance efforts.

Iranian state television reported on Sunday that the helicopter carrying the Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi along with Iranian Foreign Minister Amir Abdollahian and other officials, had an accident in the Jolfa region of East Azerbaijan province amid poor weather conditions.

The accident happened in the mountainous protected forest area of Dizmar near the town of Varzaghan, said the Iranian state media on Sunday.

Iranian Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi described the accident as a “hard landing due to the weather conditions.”

Raisi's convoy comprised three helicopters including two that landed safely in the northwestern city of Tabriz. Vahidi said it was “difficult to establish communication” with the third helicopter which was carrying Raisi. Search and rescue teams were headed to the remote mountain area, Iranian state media said.

Iranian state TV broadcast footage of an Iranian Red Crescent team walking up a slope in thick fog, as well as live footage of crowds of worshippers reciting prayers in the holy Shrine of Imam Reza in the city Mashhad, Raisi's hometown.

Rescuers gather before heading towards the site of the "accident" involving a helicopter in the convoy of Iran's President in the Jolfa region of the western province of East Azerbaijan. (Photo by AZIN HAGHIGHI / MojNews / AFP)

 

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei urged Iranians on Sunday to not worry for the country, “The Iranian people should not worry, there will be no disruption in the country's work,” Khamenei said in a speech carried on state TV. “We hope that Almighty God will bring our dear president and his companions back in full health into the arms of the nation.”

Iraq, the European Union, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Turkey, Kuwait, Qatar, Syria and Saudi Arabia have all extended assistance to Iran following the helicopter accident involving Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi.

Iraqi Prime Minister Mohamed Shia al-Sudani instructed relevant authorities to offer resources for the search.

The EU activated its rapid response mapping service, while Turkey deployed 32 mountain rescue specialists and 32 vehicles.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed deep sadness and offered full support. Saudi Arabia also voiced great concern and offered to assist with the response efforts.

Rumours and speculation quickly swirled around social media in Iran over the fate of Raisi and his companions.

Iran was gripped by fear and worry on Sunday as the nation awaited news on the fate of President Ebrahim Raisi after his helicopter went missing in a foggy mountain area.

Thousands of Muslims prayed for his safe return in mosques across the country, including in Raisi's hometown of Mashhad.

Tearful Iranians also gathered in Valiasr Square in central Tehran, praying for both Raisi and Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, who was also onboard the helicopter.

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Author Amr Al Housni

Amr Al Housni is a Syrian news reporter based in Erbil, specializing in coverage of local and international events.

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