Iranian President & Foreign Minister killed in helicopter accident, crash allegedly happened due to ‘bad weather’

Iranian President & Foreign Minister killed in helicopter accident that crashed during fog

A helicopter crash recently killed Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and its foreign minister, according to AP News.

The authorities found their bodies dead on Monday (20 May), hours after the accident took place.

Iran has not yet offered the cause for the crash or suggested that sabotage had occurred. The helicopter had fallen in mountainous terrain amidst sudden and intense fog.

Iranian president and foreign minister killed in helicopter crash

BBC News reported that Raisi was flying from the Qiz Qalasi and Khoda Afarin dams in the far north-western province of East Azerbaijan towards the city of Tabriz in Iran, 130km to the south.

Raisi had been slated to make an appearance to inaugurate a project at an oil refinery in the city.

Seven others were accompanying him on the trip, the names of whom are as follows:

  • Iran’s Foreign Minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian
  • Governor of East Azerbaijan province, Malek Rahmati
  • Tabriz’s Friday prayer leader, Ayatollah Mohammad Ali Al-e Hashem
  • A senior Shia cleric, also Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s official representative in East Azerbaijan
  • Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Brigadier-General and head of the president’s security team, Mohammad Mehdi Mousavi
  • IRGC Colonel Seyyed Taher Mostafavi
  • IRGC Technician Major Behrouz Qadimi

The crash occurred at around 1.30pm local time in a remote mountainous area 58km south of the Qiz-Qalasi Dam.

Helicopter experienced hard landing in bad weather

Over two hours later, Iranian state TV reported that the helicopter had experienced a “hard landing” while flying in heavy fog and rain.

Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi later stated that the president’s delegation was travelling in a convoy of three helicopters. His aircraft had to “make a hard landing due to bad weather conditions and fog in the area.”

While multiple rescue teams headed to the area, fog, snow, rain and the local terrain made their efforts difficult.

The two other helicopters also searched for 15 to 20 minutes but had to make emergency landings as well.

Rescuers found no signs of life at wreckage

According to BBC, at about 6am local time on the morning of 20 May, rescuers reached the wreckage and found “no signs of life”, the head of the Iranian Red Crescent, Pirhossein Kolivand said.

State TV then announced the death of the president and those on board, broadcasting footage of the wreckage with the helicopter’s tail clearly visible.

Source: @alihashem_tv on X

Rescuers recovered the bodies and transferred them to a cemetery in Tabriz.

Mohammad Nami, head of Iran’s crisis management agency, said that they could be identified with “no need for DNA examinations.”

In addition, he shared that Ayatollah Al-e Hashem was alive for an hour following the crash. He contacted the head of the president’s office before his death.

Vice president to succeed deceased president

Following news of the crash, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei declared five days of public mourning over the tragedy, BBC News reports.

“With deep sorrow and regret, I have received the bitter news of the martyrdom of the people’s president, the competent, hard-working Hajj Sayyed Ebrahim Raisi, and his esteemed entourage,” he said.

Source: CNN

In addition, he confirmed the appointment of Vice-President Mohammad Mokhber as acting president to succeed Raisi.

According to Al Jazeera, the Iranian Constitution states that if the president dies or is incapacitated, the first vice president succeeds him until an election takes place within a maximum period of 50 days.

Tributes and condolences from foreign leaders have also flown in following news of the death. For instance, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to X to share a statement on the tragedy.

Source: @narendramodi on X

“My heartfelt condolences to his family and the people of Iran,” he said. “India stands with Iran in this time of sorrow.”

Also read: 10-year-old child injured after Iran launches drone & missile attacks on Israel

10-year-old child injured after Iran launches drone & missile attacks on Israel

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