May 20, 2024

IRAN: President, Foreign Minister, 6 Others Were Killed In A Helicopter Crash Sunday 5/19 Midday Returning From Inauguration Of Joint Hydroelectric Power Project With Neighbouring Azerbaijan.

UPDATE 5/26/24 at 8:44pm: Added info below.

Redacted published BREAKING! Iran Helicopter Mystery Deepens, Global Terror Alert Issued by U.S.
starting at 4:32 Clayton and Natali discuss a 24 hour weather blackout mystery on the day Iran's President helicoptor crashed. (emphasis mine)
Firstpost published May 20, 2024: Iran President Ebrahim Raisi Killed in Helicopter Crash: What Happened. Vantage with Palki Sharma.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi died in a deadly helicopter crash in east Azerbaijan Province of Iran yesterday. His mortal remains were discovered by a rescue team today. While the cause of the crash is yet to be determined, experts say the bad weather could have been a factor. Initial investigation has revealed that Raisi's helicopter made a hard landing. They are also pointing out that President Raisi and his team were flying in a decades-old chopper. No one aboard the chopper survived the crash, including Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, a cleric and five of Raisi's close aides. Raisi was a hardline ruler, and a close aide to Iran's Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. After Raisi's departure, Khamenei announced a five-day national mourning period for Iran, and said that the regime will continue to operate "without any disruptions". He has also appointed Vice President Mohammad Mokhber to serve as Iran's interim President until the next Presidential elections in the regime. On Vantage, Palki Sharma brings you a detailed report on Raisi's death and what it could mean for Iran.
Forbes Breaking News published May 20, 2024: Austin Asked Point Blank If Helicopter Crash That Killed Iran's President Raisi Was An Accident.

Reuters News
written by Parisa Hafezi and Yomna Mohamed
Monday May 20, 2024

DUBAI - Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, a hardliner seen as a potential successor to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was killed when his helicopter crashed in poor weather in mountains near the Azerbaijan border, officials and state media said on Monday. The charred wreckage of the helicopter which crashed on Sunday carrying Raisi, Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian and six other passengers and crew was found early on Monday after an overnight search in blizzard conditions.

Supreme Leader Khamenei, who holds ultimate power with a final say on foreign policy and Iran's nuclear programme, said First Vice President Mohammad Mokhber, would take over as interim president, the official IRNA news agency reported. "I announce five days of public mourning and offer my condolences to the dear people of Iran," Khamenei said in a statement. Mokhber, like Raisi, is seen as close to Khamenei.

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 programme and its deepening military ties with Russia during the war in Ukraine.

Since Iran's ally Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7, provoking Israel's assault on Gaza, conflagrations involving Iran-aligned groups have erupted throughout the Middle East.

A long "shadow war" between Iran and Israel broke into the open last month with tit-for-tat exchanges of drone and missile fire.

An Israeli official, who requested anonymity, told Reuters it was not involved in the crash. U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said he had no insight into the cause of the crash, adding the United States had no part to play in it.

Under the Islamic Republic's constitution, a new presidential election must be held within 50 days. Any candidate must first be vetted by the Guardian Council, a hardline watchdog that has often disqualified even prominent conservative and moderate officials, meaning the overall thrust of Iranian policy would be unlikely to change.

"As Iran selects a new president, we reaffirm our support for the Iranian people and their struggle for human rights and fundamental freedoms," State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said as the U.S. expressed its "official condolences".


Government loyalists packed into mosques and squares to pray for Raisi, but most shops remained open and the authorities made little effort to interrupt ordinary life.

"He was a hard working president. His legacy will endure as long as we are alive," said Mohammad Hossein Zarrabi, 28, a member of the volunteer Basij religious militia in the holy Shi'ite city of Qom. But other Iranians showed little sorrow.

"Who cares. One hardliner dies, another takes over and our misery continues," said Reza, 47, a shopkeeper in the central desert city of Yazd who did not give his full name, fearing reprisals. "We're too busy with economic and social issues to worry about such news."

State media reported that images from the site showed the U.S.-made Bell 212 helicopter slammed into a mountain peak, although there was no official word on the cause of the crash. The dead also included the governor of East Azerbaijan Province and a senior imam from Tabriz city.

Iran was a major buyer of Bell helicopters under the U.S.-backed Shah before the 1979 Islamic revolution, though the exact origin of the aircraft that crashed was not clear. Decades of sanctions have made it hard for Iran to obtain parts or upgrade its aircraft.

The helicopter went down in Varzeqan region north of Tabriz, as Raisi returned from an official visit to the border with Azerbaijan, in Iran's northwest, to inaugurate the Qiz-Qalasi Dam, a joint project.

BBC News, UK
written by Staff
Sunday May 19, 2024

President Ebrahim Raisi and seven other people were killed on Sunday when the helicopter they were travelling in came down near the border with Azerbaijan, Iranian authorities have confirmed.

This is what we know so far about the crash.

Why was the president flying in a helicopter?

Raisi flew to the far north-western province of East Azerbaijan on Sunday morning for the inauguration of the Qiz Qalasi and Khoda Afarin dams, a joint hydroelectric power project with neighbouring Azerbaijan on the Aras river.

He was joined at the ceremony by Azerbaijan’s President, Ilham Aliyev, who said he had bid a “friendly farewell” before the helicopter departed the dam area and flew towards the city of Tabriz, about 130km (80 miles) to the south.

Raisi had been scheduled to inaugurate a project at the Tabriz oil refinery.

Who else was on board the aircraft?

There were seven people accompanying the president who also died in the crash, according to the commander-in-chief of the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC), Major General Hossein Salami.

They included Iran’s Foreign Minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, as well as the governor of East Azerbaijan province, Malek Rahmati, and Tabriz’s Friday prayer leader, Ayatollah Mohammad Ali Al-e Hashem, a senior Shia cleric who was also Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s official representative in East Azerbaijan.

Gen Salami identified the others as IRGC Brig-Gen Mohammad Mehdi Mousavi, the head of the president's security team, pilots Col Mohsen Daryanush and Col Seyyed Taher Mostafavi, and technician Maj Behrouz Qadimi.

Where did the helicopter crash?

The incident occurred at around 13:30 local time (10:00 GMT) in a remote, mountainous area about 58km (36 miles) south of the Qiz-Qalasi Dam and 2km south-west of the village of Uzi, according to Iranian officials and photographs published by state media.

But it was not until after 16:00 local time (12:45 GMT) that Iranian state TV reported that the helicopter carrying the president had experienced what it called a “hard landing” while flying to Tabriz in heavy fog and rain.

Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi later confirmed that the president’s delegation had been travelling in a convoy of three helicopters and that his aircraft was “forced to make a hard landing due to bad weather conditions and fog in the area”.

He said multiple rescue teams were heading to the area but that fog, snow and rain and the local terrain were hampering the search operation.

As for the other two helicopters that were flying alongside the president's helicopter, they had initiated a search for 15 to 20 minutes after communication was lost. They were then forced to make emergency landings, an official told state TV as the operation continued into the night.

Vice President for Executive Affairs Mohsen Mansouri also said contacts had been made with two people on the president’s helicopter - a flight crew member and one other individual.

"This indicates that the severity of the incident was not very high, as two of the individuals inside the helicopter managed to communicate with our team multiple times,” he added, without providing further details.

However, any hopes that Raisi and his entourage had survived were dashed after daybreak on Monday.

What was found at the scene?

At about 05:00 (01:30 GMT), rescuers spotted the wreckage from a distance from about 2km (1.2 miles) and then took about an hour to reach it, according to the head of the Iranian Red Crescent, Pirhossein Kolivand.

Once at the crash site, which was at an altitude of around 2,200m (7,200ft), they found “no signs of life”, Mr Kolivand told state TV.

State TV also broadcast grainy footage of the crash site on a mountainside, as seen from across a valley. It appeared to show the blue-and-white tail of a helicopter next to a number of burnt shrubs.

Later, after the death of President Raisi and the others on board had been announced, state TV broadcast footage showing a correspondent standing in front of the tail and what appeared to be other parts of the wreckage.

State news agency Irna also posted video showing rescuers carrying a body wrapped in a blanket in a stretcher.

The bodies were recovered and transferred to a cemetery in Tabriz, state TV said.

The head of Iran’s crisis management agency, Mohammad Nami, told the semi-official Tasnim news agency that all of the bodies were identifiable, with “no need for DNA examinations”.

He also said Ayatollah Al-e Hashem was alive for an hour after the crash and that he made contact with the head of the president’s office before he died.

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