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Raisi, Foreign Minister Amirabdollahian's 'lives at risk' following helicopter crash: Iranian official

Traveling with Raisi were Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian, the governor of Iran’s East Azerbaijan province and other officials and bodyguards, the state-run IRNA news agency reported.

Edited By: Ajeet Kumar @Ajeet1994 Tehran Updated on: May 19, 2024 22:15 IST
Iran Ebrahim raisi helicopter crash
Image Source : AP The helicopter carrying Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi takes off at the Iranian border with Azerbaijan after President Raisi and his Azeri counterpart Ilham Aliyev inaugurated dam of Qiz Qalasi.

 Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi was inaugurating a joint dam project with Azerbaijan on the shared border hours before his helicopter made a rough landing in heavy fog on the return journey on Sunday (May 19).

The helicopter carrying Raisi and his foreign minister crashed as it was crossing mountain terrain in heavy fog on the way back from a visit to the border with Azerbaijan, an Iranian official told Reuters.

Iran Foreign Minister Amirabdollahian was also on the ill-fated helicopter

The official said the lives of Raisi and Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian were "at risk following the helicopter crash". The bad weather was complicating rescue efforts, the state news agency IRNA reported.

VIDEO: Raisi held a meeting with his Azerbaijan counterpart earlier today 

State TV stopped all its regular programming showing prayers being held for Raisi across the country and, in a corner of the screen, live coverage of rescue teams searching the mountainous area on foot in heavy fog.

The 63-year-old was elected president at the second attempt in 2021, and since taking office has ordered a tightening of morality laws, overseen a bloody crackdown on anti-government protests and pushed hard in nuclear talks with world powers.

Who is Ebrahim Raisi?

In Iran's dual political system, split between the clerical establishment and the government, it is the supreme leader rather than the president who has the final say on all major policies.

But many see Raisi as a strong contender to succeed his 85-year-old mentor, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has strongly endorsed Raisi's main policies.

Interior Minister Ahmed Vahidi told state TV only that one of the helicopters in a group of three had come down hard, and that authorities were awaiting further details. Raisi had been at the Azerbaijani border to inaugurate the Qiz-Qalaisi Dam, a joint project.

Why Ebrahim Raisi is dubbed as a "controversial as well as hard-line leader"

Raisi also supported attacking Israel in a massive assault in April that saw over 300 drones and missiles fired at the country in response to a suspected Israeli attack that killed Iranian generals at the country's embassy compound in Damascus, Syria — itself a widening of a yearslong shadow war between the two countries.

The US Treasury in 2019 sanctioned Raisi “for his administrative oversight over the executions of individuals who were juveniles at the time of their crime and the torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment of prisoners in Iran, including amputations.” It also mentioned his involvement in the 1988 executions.

(With inputs from agencies)

Also Read: Ebrahim Raisi: Iran's 'death committee' President whose ill-fated helicopter crashes in foggy weather

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