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Iran’s president has died in a helicopter crash, state media reports



rescue teams
In this photo provided by Moj News Agency, rescue teams are seen on Sunday near the site of the incident of the helicopter carrying Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in Varzaghan in northwestern Iran. (Azin Haghighi/AP)

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, the country’s foreign minister and other officials were declared dead from a helicopter crash, Iranian state media said on Monday.

The Iranian government held an emergency meeting following the announcement of Raisi’s death and afterward Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, named First Vice President Mohammad Mokhber as acting president. Khamenei also announced five days of mourning would take place in the country.

The crash left Iran without two of its most pivotal diplomatic figures as regional tensions remain high from the ongoing Israel-Hamas war.

Iranian state-run media announced Raisi’s death in a post on Monday, along with the deaths of Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian, the governor of Iran’s East Azerbaijan province and other government officials who were aboard the helicopter.

No immediate cause for the crash was provided, but state media released images online showing what it called was the wreckage from the helicopter the group was traveling in. The helicopter crashed in foggy conditions in a mountainous area in northern Iran as they returned from an event along Iran’s border with Azerbaijan.

Immediate international reaction came from Iran’s neighbors. Pakistan’s government announced it would observe a day of mourning over the news. In Russia, President Vladimir Putin sent his condolences to Khamenei, Russian state media reported.

a man
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi is shown placing his hands on his heart as a gesture of respect to the crowd during the funeral ceremony of the victims of a bomb explosion in the city of Kerman, Iran, on Jan. 5, 2024. (Vahid Salemi/AP)

Rescue teams searched intensely for the helicopter

Earlier, IRNA reported that the president of the Iranian Red Crescent Society confirmed that rescue and search teams had identified Raisi’s helicopter.

On Sunday, Iran’s Interior Minister, Ahmad Vahidi, said a “hard landing” of the president’s helicopter and said the search-and-rescue operation were underway, according to IRNA.

IRNA reported that two passengers on the flight had communicated with rescue workers. Twenty rescue teams, including drones and dogs, had been sent to the scene, and the Iranian military had also deployed troops to assist in the rescue effort, IRNA added.

The Fars News Agency posted what it said was video footage of rescue teams that had been dispatched to the area. Earlier in the day, the Iranian government’s X account posted an image of Raisi seated next to Azerbaijan’s president, Ilham Aliyev, at the opening of a dam along the border between the two countries.

Raisi was elected in 2021 and is a relative hard-liner

A former cleric and judge, Raisi was elected president in 2021.

When he came into office, Raisi said Iran would continue to honor its nuclear deal with the U.S., despite then-President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the agreement in 2018.

Still, Raisi has been viewed as more of a hard-liner than his predecessor, former Iranian president Hassan Rouhani.

Last month, Raisi celebrated Iran’s attack on Israel following an airstrike in Damascus that killed seven members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Iran blamed Israel for the bombing, but Israel never claimed responsibility. Israel said it and its allies intercepted 99% of the missiles and drones Iran fired during its retaliatory strike.

Iran’s president is the head of its government, but the country is ruled by Khamenei, its supreme leader.

Iran’s supreme leader sets national policies and supervises their implementation and also controls the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and police force, according to the Council on Foreign Relations.

Iran’s constitution dictates that if the president dies while in office, the first vice president takes over with the approval of the country’s supreme leader, Reuters reported. A new election must then be held within 50 days.








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