Iranian President Raisi’s helicopter crashes, fate unknown

Mohamed Samir
2 Min Read
Last picture of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian before departing on the helicopter in Iran's East Azerbaijan Province on Sunday 19 May.

A helicopter carrying Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian crashed Sunday in Iran’s East Azerbaijan Province, state news agency IRNA reported. The fate of those on board, including other high-ranking officials, remains uncertain.

The aircraft was returning from a ceremony marking the opening of a dam on Iran’s border with Azerbaijan when it “crashed upon landing in the Varzaqan region,” IRNA English reported.

Rescue efforts have been hampered by dense fog, which reduced visibility to just five meters in the mountainous and forested area. Twenty rescue teams and drones have been dispatched, but the search and rescue operation is expected to be prolonged due to the difficult terrain and weather conditions.

Locals reported hearing noises from the Dizmar Forest area between the villages of Ozi and Pir Davood, where the helicopter is believed to have crashed.

Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi stated that one of the helicopters in a convoy was forced to make a hard landing due to the fog, but the exact status of Raisi’s helicopter and its occupants remains unclear.

The incident comes amid heightened regional tensions, including the ongoing conflict in Gaza and recent military exchanges between Iran and Israel. 

There is also growing discussion among Iranian officials about the potential weaponization of the country’s nuclear program, and the issue of Supreme Leader Khamenei’s succession looms large in Iran’s political landscape.

Should President Raisi’s death be confirmed, the Iranian constitution mandates new presidential elections within 50 days. Until then, with the Supreme Leader’s approval, First Vice-President Mohammad Mokhber, a former head of major government conglomerates, would assume presidential powers.

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Mohamed Samir Khedr is an economic and political journalist, analyst, and editor specializing in geopolitical conflicts in the Middle East, Africa, and the Eastern Mediterranean. For the past decade, he has covered Egypt's and the MENA region's financial, business, and geopolitical updates. Currently, he is the Executive Editor of the Daily News Egypt, where he leads a team of journalists in producing high-quality, in-depth reporting and analysis on the region's most pressing issues. His work has been featured in leading international publications. Samir is a highly respected expert on the Middle East and Africa, and his insights are regularly sought by policymakers, academics, and business leaders. He is a passionate advocate for independent journalism and a strong believer in the power of storytelling to inform and inspire. Twitter: https://twitter.com/Moh_S_Khedr LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mohamed-samir-khedr/
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