Iranian President Ebrahim Raissi killed In A Helicopter Crash

Iranian President Ebrahim Raissi killed In A Helicopter Crash
Credits: IRIAF

An Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force (IRIAF) Bell 212, operated by the VIP Squadron, carrying Iranian President Ebrahim Raissi, the Imam of Juma Tabriz, Hossein Amirabdollahian the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Malik Rahmati the Governor of East Azarbaijan crashed in the forest area of ​​Dzmar between the villages of Uzi and Pir Dawood.

Sardar Seyed Mehdi Mousavi, head of Raisi’s guard team, the helicopter’s pilot Colonel Seyed Taher Mostafavi, co-pilot Colonel Mohsen Daryanush, and flight technician Major Behrouz Ghadimi, also all perished in the crash.

IRNA said the crash killed eight people in all, including three crew members aboard the Bell helicopter, which Iran purchased in the early 2000s.

There was “no sign” of life among passengers of the helicopter, Iran’s state television said. “Upon finding the helicopter, there was no sign of the helicopter passengers being alive as of yet,” the state TV said. 

Early on Monday, Turkish authorities released what they described as drone footage showing what appeared to be a fire in the wilderness that they “suspected to be wreckage of a helicopter.” The coordinates listed in the footage put the fire some 20 kilometers (12 miles) south of the Azerbaijan-Iranian border on the side of a steep mountain.

Footage released by IRNA showed what the agency described as the crash site, across a steep valley in a green mountain range. Soldiers speaking in the local Azeri language said: “There it is, we found it.” Shortly after, state TV in an on-screen scrolling text said: “There is no sign of life from people on board.”

Raisi was returning on Sunday after traveling to Iran’s border with Azerbaijan to inaugurate a dam with Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev when the crash happened in the Dizmar forest in Iran’s East Azerbaijan province.

In Iran, if the president passes away during their term, Article 131 of the Constitution dictates that the first vice president assumes temporary presidency, subject to confirmation by the supreme leader.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei named Vice President Mohammad Mokhber as caretaker.

This incident follows a period of heightened regional tensions, particularly in light of the Gaza conflict and Iran’s recent escalations with Israel.

Iran has offered no cause for the crash nor suggested sabotage brought down the helicopter, which fell in mountainous terrain in a sudden, intense fog.

An Israeli official told Reuters it was not involved in the crash. “It wasn’t us,” said the official, who requested anonymity.

President Raisi, who has been in office since 2021, has pledged Iran’s steadfast support for Palestine, a stance reiterated during his recent dam inauguration speech.

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