Iranian President, foreign minister killed in helicopter crash, say state media

Tehran: Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian and others on board the helicopter that crashed a day ago in the northwest of the country have all died according to state media Press TV.

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, East Azarbaijan Governor Malek Rahmati, East Azarbaijan Imam of Friday Prayer Mohammad Ali Ale-Hashem, and several other passengers have been killed in the helicopter crash. Raisi was heading to the city of Tabriz, in the north-west of Iran, after returning from an Iran-Azerbaijan border area when the chopper ran into heavy fog.

State news agency IRNA reported, “Upon the martyrdom of the president and the minister of foreign affairs, the government cabinet convened an urgent meeting.”

According to CNN, the Iranian Constitution mandates, in the case of the death of the President, the first vice president shall assume, with the approval of the Supreme Leader, the powers and functions of the president. Vice President Mohammad Mokhber would be next in line.

Meanwhile, an Al Jazeera reporter said that “looking at the wreckage of the helicopter, the chances of anyone surviving in such an accident are quite slim. We see that the whole cabin of the helicopter is completely burned.”

The publication said that Iranian authorities “are saying that some of the bodies were burned beyond recognition, and that they have not been able to identify who is who at the site.”

Drone footage of the wreckage taken by the Red Crescent was carried on state media. It showed the crash site on a steep, wooded hillside, with little remaining of the helicopter beyond a blue and white tail, CNN reported.

The crash site of the helicopter carrying President Raisi was found in the forested mountains earlier today. The wreckage was found on the route from Khoylar village to Kelem.

Tasnim News Agency reported from Varzeqan that after the probable coordinates of the crash site were announced, rescue teams immediately went to the designated location, but there was no sign of the helicopter.

The search operation continued as daylight broke along the Khoylar to Kelem route.

Rescue teams then noticed the helicopter’s blades and wings on a hill and immediately changed their course towards the hill.

The Iranian Red Crescent head highlighted that, according to the videos from the rescue teams, the entire cabin of the helicopter was significantly damaged and burned, adding that there were no signs of survivors on the site.

Raisi was returning to Iran following a visit to Azerbaijan when his helicopter came down in bad weather conditions on Sunday afternoon.

Nine people were on the helicopter that crashed in northwest Iran on Sunday, including three officials, an imam, and flight and security team members, as reported by Tasnim News.

The IRGC-run media outlet, Sepah, reported the nine included: Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian; Governor of Eastern Azerbaijan province Malek Rahmati, Tabriz’s Friday prayer Imam Mohammad Ali Alehashem, as well as a pilot, copilot, crew chief, head of security, and another bodyguard.

For the first time, Iran is going through such a situation. The country has never seen something similar with the president and the foreign minister disappearing in a helicopter crash, reported Al Jazeera.–(ANI)

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