Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian die in helicopter crash: Report

  • Iran's Mehr news agency reported that Ebrahim Raisi and foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian died in a helicopter crash

Updated20 May 2024
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in Minab, Iran (File photo)
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in Minab, Iran (File photo)(via REUTERS)

Iran’s President, Ebrahim Raisi, and Foreign Minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, have been declared dead following a helicopter crash, the country’s semi-official Mehr news agency reported on Monday. The crash occurred on Sunday amidst challenging conditions in mountainous terrain and icy weather in East Azerbaijan.

According to Reuters, the helicopter that was carrying the Iranian President and other higher officials was found completely burned in a forest on Monday. 

The report said that rescue teams fought blizzards and difficult terrain through the night to reach the wreckage in East Azerbaijan province early Monday. 

Iran President Ebrahim Raisi’s helicopter crashes, search underway | 10 updates

Iranian Red Crescent Society chief Pir Hossein Kolivand told media that the rescuers saw the helicopter from a distance of some 2 kilometres (1.25 miles) on Monday morning.

He said, “We can see the wreckage, and the situation does not look good”.

The Red Crescent chief added, “No signs of life have been detected among the helicopter’s passengers.”

The incident happened on the way back from a visit to Iran’s East Azerbaijan province after the two nations inaugurated a dam in the region. The dam is the third one they built on the Aras River.

What was the origin of the helicopter?

The helicopter that crashed on Sunday was a Bell 212. It is widely used globally by both governments and private operators. The Iranian model that crashed on Sunday was configured to carry government passengers. Bell Helicopter advertises the latest version, the Subaru Bell 412, for police use, medical transport, troop transport, the energy industry, and firefighting.

Have there been other incidents involving the Bell 212?

The most recent fatal crash of a Bell 212 was in September 2023, when a privately operated aircraft crashed off the coast of the UAE.

About Ebrahim Raisi

President Ebrahim Raisi, 63, a hard-liner who formerly led the country’s judiciary, is viewed as Khamenei’s protégé. Some analysts had suggested he could replace the 85-year-old leader after Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s death or resignation.

Raisi won Iran’s 2021 presidential election, a vote that saw the lowest turnout in the Islamic Republic’s history. The US has sanctioned Raisi in part over his alleged involvement in the mass execution of thousands of political prisoners in 1988 at the end of the bloody Iran-Iraq war.

According to the Associated Press news agency, under Raisi, Iran now enriches uranium at nearly weapons-grade levels and hampers international inspections. Iran has armed Russia in its war on Ukraine, as well as launched massive drone and missile attacks on Israel amid its war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. It also has continued arming proxy groups in the Mideast, like Yemen’s Houthi rebels and Lebanon’s Hezbollah.

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HomeNewsworldIranian President Ebrahim Raisi and Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian die in helicopter crash: Report

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