A mountainous area, a “hard landing”… What we know about the Iranian president’s helicopter accident

A mountainous area, a “hard landing”… What we know about the Iranian president’s helicopter accident
A mountainous area, a “hard landing”… What we know about the Iranian president’s helicopter accident

What happened?

“An accident occurred with the helicopter carrying the president” in the Jolfa region, in the heart of a sparsely populated mountainous area, state television said.

The Minister of the Interior, Ahmed Vahidi, spoke to state television about a “hard landing” of the device, without giving additional details.

The aircraft was part of a convoy of three helicopters transporting the presidential delegation.

Two of them landed safely in Tabriz, the large city in the northwest, but not the one in which Mr. Raïssi, 63, was.

The accident site is believed to be located in the Dizmar forest, near the town of Varzaghan.

Shortly before, the Iranian president inaugurated a dam in the province of Eastern Azerbaijan, accompanied by his Azerbaijani counterpart, Ilham Aliev, on the border between the two countries.

Who was on board?

The official Irna news agency indicated that in addition to the president, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, the governor of the province as well as the main imam of the region were among the passengers of the plane.

Where is the research?

Intense searches were underway late Sunday in northwest Iran. “More than 20 rescue teams with full equipment, including drones and rescue dogs”have “were sent there”according to the Irna agency.

But research is made very difficult by “unfavorable weather conditions”indicated the Minister of the Interior.

“It may take time to reach the area”, he added. State television broadcast images of several members of the Iranian Red Crescent walking in thick fog.

What scenario in the event of Mr. Raïssi’s death?

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. It is he who would take over as president in the event of the death of Mr. Raïssi, pending the holding of a presidential election within 50 days.

Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, called on Iranians to “do not worry” for the country, affirming that“there will be no disruption” and saying “hope that God will bring back the president and his companions”.

The evolution of the situation is being carefully monitored internationally and offers of assistance for research are increasing, notably from Saudi Arabia and the EU, which has “activated its mapping service”.

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