Ebrahim Raisi

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi confirmed dead in helicopter crash after charred wreckage found

Bad weather is believed to have been a major factor in the crash of the helicopter as it travelled back from Azerbaijan in a convoy of three aircraft.

Iran’s president and foreign minister have died after their helicopter crashed in a mountainous area of northwest Iran.

Rescuers found the chopper’s burned remains on Monday morning, more than 12 hours after it came down in bad weather.

State TV said it had smashed into a mountain – there has been no official word on the cause but there was thick fog in the area.

“President Raisi’s helicopter was completely burned in the crash… unfortunately, all passengers are feared dead,” an official told Reuters.

Drone footage appeared to show the tail of the helicopter and scattered debris.

The search involving civilian and military teams had been hampered by fog and the remote location.

Five days of national mourning have been declared by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

First Vice President Mohammad Mokhber has been put in temporary charge and new elections must be held within 50 days.

Mr Raisi, 63, who was seen as a frontrunner to succeed Ayatollah Khamenei, was travelling from Azerbaijan where he had inaugurated a dam with the country’s president.

Iran’s foreign minister, Hossein Amirabdollahian, also died in the crash.

The governor of East Azerbaijan province, officials and bodyguards are also believed to be among those killed.

The helicopter was travelling in a convoy of three aircraft and Iranian media initially described it as a “hard landing”.

Iranian news agency IRNA said he was flying in an American-made Bell 212 helicopter purchased in the early 2000s.

India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, is among many regional allies who’ve reacted to the president’s death.

He said he was “deeply saddened and shocked” and offered “heartfelt condolences to his family and the people of Iran”.

Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani expressed “great sadness and great sorrow” in a statement.

Pakistan leader Shehbaz Sharif, posting on X, offered “deepest condolences and sympathies to the Iranian nation on this terrible loss”.

Russia’s Vladimir Putin called it a “huge tragedy” and “a difficult, irreparable loss”.

President Raisi was elected in 2021 in a vote that had the lowest turnout in the Islamic republic’s history.

The president was sanctioned by the US over the mass execution of political prisoners at the end of the Iran-Iraq war in 1988.

He says the country’s approach to foreign affairs after his death is likely to be “business as usual”. – Sky News

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