Iranian President Raisi, delegation die in helicopter crash

The crash involved key officials, including the foreign minister and local officials in East Azerbaijan province.
The found wreckage of the crashed helicopter. (Photo: Iran News Agency)
The found wreckage of the crashed helicopter. (Photo: Iran News Agency)

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) - Iranian media on Monday reported the death of President Ebrahim Raisi and his delegation after their helicopter crashed in a rugged mountainous area in northwest Iran. The helicopter, which went missing on Sunday, was found with "no sign" of life in the wreckage.

Read More: Helicopter carrying Iran's president suffers a 'hard landing,' state TV says without further details

Mehr News Agency announced, "Mr. Ebrahim Raisi was martyred" along with Foreign Minister Hussein Amir Abdullahian.

Official media broadcast a picture of Raisi accompanied by verses from the Holy Quran, though an official announcement is still pending. Former Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and other officials expressed condolences on social media.

State television reported that a Turkish drone located the crash site and alerted Iranian rescue teams. Head of the Iranian Red Crescent Society, Pir Hossein Kolivand, confirmed the discovery of the helicopter, stating, “The situation is not good.”

Hopes of finding Raisi (63) alive were diminishing due to the lack of information about the helicopter's fate, which disappeared amid bad weather conditions.

The crash involved key officials, including the foreign minister and local officials in East Azerbaijan province.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei urged Iranians "not to worry" and assured that the country's work would continue uninterrupted.

The helicopter crash occurred in the Julfa region of East Azerbaijan province. Interior Minister Ahmed Wahidi stated that the helicopter made a difficult landing due to poor weather, complicating contact.

Rescue efforts included more than 20 teams with drones and rescue dogs. State television showed images of Iranian Red Crescent members in dense fog and worshipers praying for the president in several mosques.

The helicopter was part of a convoy carrying Raisi and other officials, including Foreign Minister Amir Abdullahian and East Azerbaijan Governor Malek Rahmati.

The Iranian government held an emergency meeting, with Vice President Mohamed Mokhber expected to assume the presidency if Raisi's death is confirmed.

International reactions included statements from the US, China, Turkey, Russia, and several Arab countries. US President Joe Biden was informed of the accident, and China offered support for rescue efforts. Turkey and Russia sent rescue teams to assist in the search.

Kurdistan Region Prime Minister Masrour Barzani on Sunday in a post on X expressed his deep concern over Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi's helicopter accident.

“I’m deeply concerned about the helicopter crash in Iran. I hope President Raisi and the other passengers are safe. My thoughts are with them and their families, and I pray for the well-being of everyone on board,” the prime minister said.

Read More: I’m deeply concerned about the helicopter crash in Iran: PM Barzani

Kurdistan Region President Nechirvan Barzani on Sunday in a post on X expressed concern over Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi's helicopter accident.

“I’m following the news of the helicopter incident carrying Iran’s President Raisi with deep concern. I hope that all on board are safe and sound. We stand in solidarity with the leadership and people of Iran during this difficult time," the Kurdistan Region President said.

Read More: Kurdistan Region President expresses concern over Raisi helicopter accident

Mohammad Shia al-Sudani, Iraq's Prime Minister, on Sunday directed the Interior Ministry and the Iraqi Red Crescent to assist in searching for Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi's helicopter.

“The search for the Iranian president's helicopter, which went missing in northern Iran, has prompted Prime Minister Mohammad Shia al-Sudani to provide the Islamic Republic of Iran with assistance from the Ministry of Interior, the Iraqi Red Crescent, and other relevant authorities and capabilities,” Iraqi government spokesperson Basim al-Awadi said.

Read More: Iraqi government offers Iran assistance in finding Raisi helicopter

Former Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari also expressed his concern over the incident and in a message in Arabic posted on his X account expressed deep sympathy and solidarity with Iran following the accident involving Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi.

"In such difficult circumstances, we are all with the neighboring Iranian nation and the Islamic Republic of Iran regarding today’s tragic accident of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and his team, who disappeared in a plane accident in the remote mountains of Azerbaijan," Zebari stated.

He also mentioned that President Raisi was scheduled to visit Iraq and Kurdistan at the end of this month.

President Raisi, a hardline conservative, had been in office since June 2021. He previously served as vice president and was involved in Iran's missile program, leading to sanctions by the EU and the US Treasury.

Raisi's death comes amid heightened tensions in the region, particularly concerning the conflict between Hamas and Israel.