Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi passes away in helicopter crash

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi passes away in helicopter crash

QLNews
By QLNews

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, long seen as a potential successor to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was confirmed killed in a helicopter crash in mountainous terrain near the Azerbaijan border, officials and state media reported on Monday.

The charred wreckage of the helicopter which crashed on Sunday carrying Raisi and Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian was found early on Monday after an overnight search in blizzard conditions.

“President Raisi, the foreign minister and all passengers in the helicopter were killed in the crash,” a senior Iranian official told Reuters, asking not to be named because of the matter’s sensitivity.

Raisi’s death was also confirmed in a statement on social media by Vice President Mohsen Mansouri and on state television.

State TV reported that images from the site showed the aircraft slammed into a mountain peak, although there was no official word on the cause of the crash. State news agency IRNA said Raisi was flying in a US-made Bell 212 Helicopter.

Raisi, 63, was elected president in 2021, and since then had overseen a crackdown on anti-government protests and pushed hard in nuclear talks with world powers.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei had earlier sought to reassure Iranians, saying there would be no disruption to state affairs.

Rescue teams fought blizzards and difficult terrain through the night to reach the wreckage in the early hours of Monday.

“With the discovery of the crash site, no signs of life have been detected among the helicopter's passengers,” head of Iran’s Red Crescent Pirhossein Kolivand had told state TV.

Earlier, the national broadcaster had stopped all regular programming to show prayers being held for Raisi across the country.

Video showed a rescue team, wearing bright jackets and head torches, huddled around a GPS device as they searched a pitch-black mountainside on foot in a blizzard. Several countries had expressed concerns and offered assistance.

The White House said US President Joe Biden had been briefed on reports about the crash. China said it was deeply concerned while the European Union offered emergency satellite mapping technology.

The crash comes at a time of growing dissent within Iran over an array of political, social, and economic crises. Iran’s clerical rulers face international pressure over Tehran’s disputed nuclear program and its deepening military ties with Russia during the Ukraine war.

For years, many have seen Raisi as a strong contender to succeed Khamenei, who has endorsed Raisi’s main policies. Raisi's victory in a closely managed election in 2021 brought all branches of power under the control of hardliners.

Raisi had been at the Azerbaijani border on Sunday to inaugurate the Qiz-Qalasi Dam, a joint project. Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev, who said he had bid a ‘friendly farewell’ to Raisi earlier, offered assistance in the rescue.

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