Iranian President Raisi feared dead as helicopter wreckage found

English | 20 May, 2024 | 10:17 AM
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Hopes are fading that Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and his foreign minister have survived a helicopter crash in mountainous terrain and icy weather, an Iranian official said on Monday after search teams located the wreckage."President Raisi's helicopter was completely burned in the crash ... unfortunately, all passengers are feared dead," the official told Reuters.

Rescue teams fought blizzards and difficult terrain through the night to reach the wreckage in East Azerbaijan province in the early hours of Monday.“We can see the wreckage and the situation does not look good,” the head of Iran’s Red Crescent, Pirhossein Kolivand, told state TV. (Reuters)

Rescuers on Monday found the helicopter carrying Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, the country's foreign minister, and other officials that went missing in the mountainous northwest region of Iran. State media reported that although the helicopter was located, "no sign of life" was detected among those on board.

Iran President's Helicopter Crash Live Updates: China 'deeply concerned' over Iran president's helicopter accident China said on Monday it was "deeply concerned" after Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi's helicopter went missing in what Tehran's state media described as an accident, and pledged to help the rescue operation.Contact was lost with the aircraft carrying Raisi, as well as foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and others, in East Azerbaijan province in northwest Iran on Sunday,

reports said.Iran's Red Crescent said on Monday the helicopter had been found and the situation was "not good". "The Chinese side is deeply concerned about the hard landing of the helicopter in which President Raisi was travelling, and we wish President Raisi and the crew on board safe and sound," state broadcaster CCTV quoted Beijing's foreign ministry as saying. (AFP)

The chief of Iran's Red Crescent said Monday that the missing helicopter which was carrying President Ebrahim Raisi had been found but the situation was "not good"."The helicopter has been found. Now, we are moving toward the helicopter," said Red Crescent chief Pirhossein Koolivand, adding "the situation is not good."

Iranian authorities on Monday moved the rescue teams towards the crashed chopper carrying Ebrahim Raisi after a Turkish drone Akinci identified a heat source in the accident region, Iran-based news network Press TV reported.According to Turkish News agency Anadolu, an Akinci UAV identified a source of heat suspected to be the wreckage of a helicopter carrying Iranian President Raisi and shared its coordinates with Iranian authorities

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed deep sorrow upon learning about the helicopter accident involving Iran's President Raisi. He stated that Turkey is closely monitoring the situation, maintaining communication and coordination with Iranian authorities, and stands prepared to offer any required assistance.

Turkey's emergency aid agency, AFAD, has announced that 32 mountain rescue specialists will be dispatched to aid Iran in the search for President Raisi's helicopter.

Signals reportedly detected by the armed forces originate from both the helicopter and the mobile phone of a member of the flight crew. Asghar Abbasgholizadeh, the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in Eastern Azerbaijan, expressed, "We are now mobilizing all military forces towards the area, and I am hopeful we can deliver positive news to the people." He emphasized that the area has reached its maximum capacity for additional forces.

The European Commission is activating its satellite mapping service to support search efforts following a request from Iran, according to the European Commissioner for Crisis Management. The Copernicus Emergency Management Service, which provides mapping products based on satellite imagery, will be utilized. Crisis Management Commissioner Janez Lenarcic announced on X that the service is activating its “rapid response mapping service in view of the helicopter accident.”

Tensions between Iran and the US have persisted for years, notably escalating after the US unilaterally withdrew from a nuclear agreement with Tehran in 2018. Additionally, the US has shown support for Israel in its conflicts with Iran-backed entities like Hezbollah in Lebanon, including recent direct exchanges of attacks between Israel and Iran.

A helicopter carrying Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi suffered a "hard landing" on Sunday, Iranian state media reported, without elaborating. Some began urging the public to pray for Raisi and the others on board as rescue crews sped through a misty, rural forest where his helicopter was believed to be. The likely crash comes as Iran under Raisi and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei launched an unprecedented drone-and-missile attack on Israel just last month and has enriched uranium closer than ever to weapons-grade levels. Meanwhile, Iran has faced years of mass protests against its Shiite theocracy over an ailing economy and women's rights - making the moment that much more sensitive for Tehran and the future of the country as the Israel-Hamas war inflames the wider Middle East.

An official from the Iranian Red Crescent involved in the ongoing search operations mentioned that unconfirmed reports of the helicopter being found were spread by local media. A state television reporter in the area also relayed that Energy Minister Ali Akbar Mehrabian confirmed there have been no new developments. However, the reporter added that search and rescue teams are thought to be within two kilometers of a potential location where the helicopter might be located.

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