Helicopter Crash Puts Iranian President Raisi in Danger

UPDATE: The President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliev, expressed his sorrow regarding the incident involving the President of Iran and announced that his country is prepared to offer any assistance and support to Iran, reports the IRNA agency.

European Union: We are monitoring the situation of the helicopter accident involving the Iranian President. In response to reports about the helicopter accident transporting Iranian President Seyed Ebrahim Raisi, the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, declared that the European Union is closely monitoring this situation.

USA Reaction: A spokesperson for the US State Department declared that Washington is closely following the information about the accident.

UPDATE: An Iranian official told Reuters that the lives of President Raisi and Foreign Minister Amir-Abdollahian are "in danger following the helicopter crash." "We still have hope, but the information coming from the crash site is very worrying," said the official, speaking under the condition of anonymity.

Bad weather has complicated rescue efforts, announced the state press agency IRNA. State television interrupted all usual programs to show prayers being held for Ebrahim Raisi across the country and, in a corner of the screen, live broadcasts of rescue teams searching on foot in the mountainous area, in dense fog conditions.

A large-scale search operation involving Red Crescent rescuers, military personnel, and police is currently in progress, informed the Tasnim press agency. The Iranian Minister of Internal Affairs, Ahmad Vahidi, confirmed the crash of Ebrahim Raisi's convoy helicopter. "We are waiting for the rescue teams to arrive at the site," he said.

On board the helicopter were the governor of East Azerbaijan Province and Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian. According to the Tasnim agency, the helicopter with the Iranian President on board reportedly landed near the locality of Uzi. Rescuers have gone in that direction and continue their search.

At 63 years old, Ebrahim Raisi was elected president on his second attempt in 2021 and, since taking office, has ordered the tightening of morality laws, supervised a bloody repression of anti-government protests, and exerted strong pressure in nuclear negotiations with world powers. In Iran's bi-cephalic political system, divided between the clerical institution and the government, the Supreme Leader of Iran, rather than the President, has the final say on all major policies.

Despite this, many see Ebrahim Raisi as a strong candidate to succeed his 85-year-old mentor, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has strongly supported Raisi's major policies.

Initial News: A presidential helicopter of Iran was involved in an accident on Sunday in the northwest of the country, and it is still unclear in what condition President Ebrahim Raisi is, report international press agencies, quoting Iranian official media, according to Agerpres. The helicopter involved in the accident was flying in a formation of three helicopters.

According to the IRNA agency and Iranian state television, the helicopter made a "forced landing" and intervention teams are heading towards the accident site. "Some unconfirmed information indicates that the helicopter transporting President Raisi may have had an accident in East Azerbaijan province," reported state television from Tehran, adding that operations to locate the helicopter are in progress, but the searches are difficult due to unfavourable weather conditions, with dense fog in a mountainous area.

The official IRNA press agency later reported that President Raisi and the Iranian Foreign Minister were among the passengers of the helicopter. Raisi was travelling in Iran's East Azerbaijan Province. The state television described the area where the incident occurred as being near Jolfa, a city situated at the border with Azerbaijan, approximately 600 kilometres northwest of the Iranian capital, Tehran.

Raisi had been in Azerbaijan earlier on May 19 to inaugurate a dam together with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliev. This is the third dam that the two nations have built on the Aras River.

Translation by Iurie Tataru

Carolina Străjescu

Carolina Străjescu


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