President Raïssi untraceable after helicopter accident

President Raïssi untraceable after helicopter accident
President Raïssi untraceable after helicopter accident

Iranian President Ebrahim Raïssi.

AFP

Intense searches were underway late Sunday in northwest Iran to find the helicopter carrying President Ebrahim Raisi, which was the victim of an “accident,” according to officials and state media. .

“An accident occurred with the helicopter carrying the president” in the Jofa region, in the western province of East Azerbaijan, state television said.

The search was made very difficult by “unfavorable weather conditions,” Interior Minister Ahmed Vahidi said on state television.

“It may take time to reach the area,” he added, although this location would be located in the Dizmar Forest, near the town of Varzaghan.

State television broadcast images of several members of the Iranian Red Crescent walking in thick fog.

It also showed images of faithful praying for the health of the president in several mosques, including that of the holy city of Mashhad (north-east).

The Interior Minister did not confirm whether President Raïssi, aged 63, was on board the plane, which was part of a convoy of three helicopters carrying the presidential delegation.

Two of them landed safely in Tabriz, the large city in the northwest, but not the one in which Mr. Raïssi was.

The official Irna news agency said Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian was also among the plane’s passengers, along with the provincial governor and the region’s main imam.

The Irna agency added that “more than 20 rescue teams equipped with full equipment, including drones and rescue dogs”, had “been sent to the site”.

The vice-president, Mohammad Mokhber, left Tehran late in the afternoon to reach Tabriz in the company of several ministers, according to the government spokesperson.

With the President of Azerbaijan

Mr. Raisi visited the province of Eastern Azerbaijan on Sunday, where he notably inaugurated a dam in the company of the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliev, on the border between the two countries.

During a joint press conference, he again supported the Palestinians in the war in the Gaza Strip between Hamas and Israel. “We believe that Palestine is the first issue of the Muslim world, and we are convinced that the people of Iran and Azerbaijan always support the people of Palestine and Gaza and hate the Zionist regime,” he said .

Iran launched an unprecedented attack on April 13 against Israel, with 350 drones and missiles, most of which were intercepted with the help of the United States and several other allied countries.

Mr. Raïssi, who has the title of ayatollah, has been president of the Islamic Republic for almost three years.

Considered an ultraconservative, he was elected on June 18, 2021 in the first round of a vote marked by a record abstention for a presidential election and the absence of strong competitors.

Always wearing his black turban and wearing a long religious cloak, he succeeded the moderate Hassan Rouhani, who beat him in the 2017 presidential election and could no longer run again after two consecutive terms.

Mr. Raïssi emerged strengthened at the end of the legislative elections held in March, the first national vote since the protest movement which shook Iran at the end of 2022 following the death of Mahsa Amini, a young woman arrested for non-compliance. -compliance with the strict dress code of the Islamic Republic.

The Iranian president then welcomed “a new historic failure inflicted on Iran’s enemies after the riots” of 2022.

Born in November 1960 in the holy Shiite city of Mashhad (north-east), Mr. Raïssi spent most of his career in the judicial system, notably being prosecutor general of Tehran then prosecutor general of the country.

Mr. Raïssi is on the American blacklist of Iranian officials sanctioned by Washington for “complicity in serious human rights violations”, accusations dismissed as null and void by the authorities in Tehran.

(afp)

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