Iran President and Foreign Minister in Helicopter Crash! UPDATE: All Dead

Iran President and Foreign Minister in Helicopter Crash! UPDATE: All Dead

A helicopter with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi on board suffered a "crash landing" on Sunday, state media reported, with weather conditions complicating rescue efforts.

Raisi's condition was unclear, according to state news reports, which also aired prayers for his safety.

The helicopter crashed in the Dizmar Forest area between the villages of Ozi and Pir Davood. They were on their way back to Iran after an official visit to Azerbaijan.

At least 40 rescue teams, including drones and search dogs, have been deployed, but harsh weather and heavy fog in the area were making it difficult for them to reach the site, state media said.

Eight ambulances have been dispatched to the crash site and fog was preventing air rescue, it added.

Iran's foreign minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, was also traveling in the helicopter, along with East Azerbaijan's governor, Malik Rahmati, and Raisi's security detail, it said. State TV IRIB said the helicopter belonged to the Iranian Red Crescent, which Iran's Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi said was part of a larger convoy. Their condition was also unknown.

"Various rescue groups are moving towards the site, but due to the fog and bad weather, it may take time to reach the area," Vahidi said in comments aired on state media.

The officials were returning from the border with the country of Azerbaijan — in the northwest of the country, some 375 miles from the capital of Tehran — where Raisi was inaugurating a dam on the Aras river with Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev. Initially, reports put the incident near the city of Jolfa, but later said it was farther east near the village of Uzi. Details remain contradictory.

State media showed Red Crescent rescuers moving through a dense fog with only a few meters of visibility, and said the helicopter is believed to have crashed in a rural forest.

With no clarity on Raisi's condition, worried Iranians began offering prayers with dozens gathering in the city of Qom, a holy city for Shiite Muslims, state media showed. Raisi's Instagram page also posted a story asking people to pray for him.

Although Raisi is the elected president and leads the government, he still answers to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who serves as the head of state.

 

UPDATE 12:02 PM EDT --

An emergency meeting of the Iranian Security Council is being held after reports of President Raisi's helicopter crash, and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei was present, local media reported.

 

-- U.S. President Biden has been summoned to an urgent briefing at the White House.

 

FLASH UPDATE

12:23 PM EDT -- Iran Supreme Leader Khamenei declares state of emergency in all provinces of Iran and puts the Revolutionary Guards ready.  Reports coming in claiming Israel involved in helicopter downing. 

Helicopter passengers preliminary list:

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi
Imam of the northern city of Tabriz mosque Ayatollah Ale-Hashem
Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian
Governor of East Azerbaijan Province Malek Rahmati

 

12:34 PM EDT --

Western diplomatic sources say Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi did not survive his helicopter crash

Iranian security council: Sabotage is involved.  "If it was weather, then why did the 2 other helicopters successfully reach their destination?"

 

12:48 PM EDT --

Iran's IRNA state media: "The rescue teams have reached the place where the president's helicopter was thought to have had an accident, but a rainstorm has caused mud and difficult passage for cars and people. The information shows that the search area is in the heights and it is not possible to arrive by car and the rescuers have to move on foot, and therefore the rescue operation has faced difficulties"

"Helicopters used for high-ranking officials can send out their exact location in case of a crash, unless an explosion has disabled all onboard systems, including the emergency system," Iranian defense and security analyst Farzin Nadimi told

"It's possible that a bomb exploded inside, or due to pilot error and insufficient visibility, the helicopter might have collided with a rock or the top of a hill, resulting in its sudden destruction."

 

12:52 PM EDT --

Israeli media is reporting the President of Iran is dead.

 

12:59 PM EDT --

A temporary operational government has been established in Iran in the event of the president's death. If Raisi is not found alive, Vice-President Mohammad Mokhber, pictured below, will assume his position, and new elections will need to be called within the next 50 days, according to Iranian media.

1:13 PM EDT --

AMIRDARYROUSH: IF THE PRESIDENT IS DEAD, IRAN COULD COLLAPSE "Iran's population is very divided. The Iranian rial has plummeted by 15-20% against the dollar in the last few hours. Everyone here is worried, whether you like him being dead, or not."

 

1:35 PM EDT --

Confirmation: Ali Reza Dawari, head of the communications department in Ahmadinejad's presidency, confirms the deaths of the President of Iran and his Foreign Minister, Abdollahian, in the president's helicopter crash in the mountains of East Azerbaijan Province.

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