Iran: accident of a presidential helicopter, emergency services are looking for Ebrahim Raïssi

Iran: accident of a presidential helicopter, emergency services are looking for Ebrahim Raïssi
Iran: accident of a presidential helicopter, emergency services are looking for Ebrahim Raïssi

The helicopter carrying the Iranian president suffered a “hard landing”, according to state television, without further details. Emergency services are dispatched to the scene.

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Ebrahim Raisi was traveling in the Iranian province of Azerbaijan Oriental. State television said the incident occurred near Jolfa, a town on the border with Azerbaijan, some 600 kilometers northwest of the Iranian capital, Tehran.

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian, the governor of Iran’s East Azerbaijan province and other officials accompanied Raisi, the state-run IRNA news agency reported.

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A local government official used the word “crash” to describe the incident, but he admitted to an Iranian newspaper that he had not yet been able to visit the site himself.

Neither IRNA nor state television did not provide information on health status by Mr. Raisi.

One of the helicopters was forced to make a hard landing due to bad weather and fog” Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi said in remarks broadcast by state television.

The area is a bit rugged and it is difficult to make contact. We are waiting for rescue teams to reach the landing site and give us more information“, he added.

Several rescue teams are on their way to the region, but due to bad weather and fog, it could take time for them to reach the helicopter.

Difficult weather conditions

Emergency services were trying to reach the site, but they were hampered by bad weather conditions. Heavy rain and fog were reported, along with some wind. IRNA has described the area as “forest” and the region is known to be mountainous as well.

Mr. Raisi visited Azerbaijan early on Sunday to inaugurate a dam with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev. This dam is the third that the two countries have built on the Aras River.

This visit took place despite cold relations between the two nationsincluding over a gun attack on the Azerbaijani embassy in Tehran in 2023, and Azerbaijan’s diplomatic relations with Israel, which Iran’s Shiite theocracy considers its main enemy in the region .

Iran flies various helicopters into the country, but international sanctions make it difficult to obtain spare parts. Its military air fleet largely predates the Islamic Revolution of 1979.

A protégé of the supreme leader

Ebrahim Raisi, 63, is a hardliner who once headed the country’s judiciary. He is considered a protégé of Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and some analysts have suggested he could replace the 85-year-old leader after his death or resignation.

Raisi won the 2021 Iranian presidential electiona vote that saw the lowest turnout in the history of the Islamic Republic.

Raisi is sanctioned by the United States in part for his involvement in the mass execution of thousands of political prisoners in 1988, at the end of the bloody Iran-Iraq war. Under Mr. Raisi’s leadership, Iran is now enriching uranium at near-weapon level and hampers international inspections

Iran has armed Russia in its war against Ukraine and launched a massive drone and missile attack on Israel as part of its war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

It also continued to arm proxy groups in the Middle East, such as the Yemen’s Houthi rebels and Lebanese Hezbollah.

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