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Iranian President, Foreign Minister killed in helicopter crash

iranian president  foreign minister killed in helicopter crash

New Delhi, May 20: Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian were killed in a helicopter crash during their visit to East Azerbaijan province.


The wreckage of the burned helicopter was discovered by rescue teams earlier in the day.


Iranian semi-official news agency reported that the Iranian president, foreign minister, and other occupants of the helicopter, including East Azerbaijan Province Governor Malek Rahmati, have been killed.


There is still no official confirmation that Raisi is dead, but medics have said that they found no signs of life at the crash site.


The accident occurred when a Bell 212 helicopter, carrying President Raisi and his delegation, made a hard landing in a rugged area between two mountainous villages last evening.


Challenging weather conditions and rough terrain exacerbated the situation.


According to an official statement, “President Raisi’s helicopter was completely burned, and all passengers in the helicopter are feared dead.”


Immediately after the crash, search and rescue operations were launched, including the use of drones to locate the exact site amidst the difficult landscape.

Emergency crews, including the Red Crescent Relief Forces, military units, and law enforcement, faced significant obstacles due to foggy weather and rough terrain, which hindered access to the crash site. It took hours before they could reach the area.

Despite the adverse weather conditions, rescuers worked tirelessly around the clock to locate the missing helicopter. Teams combed the rocky and hilly terrain near the city of Varzaqan in East Azerbaijan province, battling foggy and rainy weather.

The Iranian Red Crescent Society (IRCS) had dispatched additional groups to aid in the search, with “46 rapid response and rescue teams from the provinces of East Azerbaijan, Tehran, Alborz, Ardabil, Zanjan, and West Azerbaijan mobilized for the operation,” according to the IRCS.

After nearly 12 hours of massive searches, rescue teams located the crash site of the helicopter carrying President Raisi, as reported by state TV. Pir-Hossein Kolivand, head of Iran's Red Crescent Society, confirmed the discovery early Monday but described the situation as "not good” and later said that there were “no survivors at the site.”

Speaking to a national TV reporter on Monday morning, Kolivand emphasized the grim condition at the site.

Earlier, the Red Crescent’s National Emergency Management Headquarters announced that its teams were en route to two identified hot spots detected by a Turkish drone.

Turkey's high-altitude long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicle, Akinji, had identified a heat source believed to be the crash site.

President Raisi was returning with Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian and several others from a ceremony to inaugurate a dam on Iran’s border with the Azerbaijan Republic when the helicopter crashed upon landing in the Varzaqan region on Sunday.

Among the dignitaries were Ayatollah Al Hashem, East Azerbaijan Governor Malik Rahmati, and others.

The helicopter mishap occurred during President Raisi's return after inaugurating the Qiz Qalasi Dam alongside Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev.

Despite recent tensions stemming from diplomatic incidents, both leaders proceeded with the ceremonial event, highlighting their commitment to collaborative projects like the dam on the Aras River, despite ongoing regional complexities.

Early Sunday, Iran’s President Raisi and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev jointly inaugurated the Qiz Qalasi Dam.

The ceremony took place after the leaders toured various parts of the dam, situated on the border river Aras.

They were briefed on the construction process and the benefits the dam would bring to both countries.

During their discussions, President Raisi emphasized that Iran and Azerbaijan would continue to support the Palestinian people, united in their opposition to certain regimes.

"The Palestine issue is the most important issue of the Islamic world, and the Iranian and Azerbaijani nations have no doubts in their support for the Palestinian people," Raisi stated.

Iran's ageing fleet of helicopters, constrained by international sanctions, often faces maintenance challenges, contributing to the difficulties encountered during such incidents.

The country's military aircraft predominantly hail from the era preceding the 1979 Islamic Revolution.