Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi dies in a Chopper CrashTop Stories

May 20, 2024 12:23
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi dies in a Chopper Crash

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Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi has passed away following a fatal helicopter crash. According to Mehr news agency, all passengers on board were declared martyred. Among the deceased were the country's foreign minister and other officials. After extensive searching in treacherous mountainous terrain and unfavourable weather conditions, rescue teams discovered the wreckage of the helicopter. "The helicopter carrying President Raisi was entirely burnt in the crash," a government official told Reuters news agency. The site of the crash provided no survivors for the chopper that was transporting Raisi, Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollhian, and other high-ranking officials. Upon finding the helicopter, Iranian state TV reported that there was no evidence of life. The tragic incident occurred in Jolfa, in the northwestern mountainous region of the nation on Sunday, as Raisi and others were returning from their visit to Iran's border with Azerbaijan. First Vice President Mohammad Mokhber is next in line for the presidency if approved by Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Early on Monday, state-run IRNA released footage showing the alleged crash site of the President's helicopter, located across a steep valley in a green mountain range. Soldiers speaking in the local language were heard saying, "There it is, we found it."

According to reports from Iranian media, a helicopter carrying nine individuals, including Iranian officials, an imam, and flight and security team members, crashed in East Azerbaijan province. The group included Governor of Eastern Azerbaijan province, Malek Rahmati. Despite challenging weather conditions including dense fog and extreme cold, search and rescue efforts continued overnight and into the following day. A Turkish drone called 'Akinci' was deployed to assist with the rescue mission and identified a "source of heat suspected to be wreckage" of the helicopter. The drone shared its coordinates with Iranian authorities, who dispatched rescue forces to the area known as 'Tavil'. In addition to Turkey, Russia also plans to send 50 mountain rescuers and special aircraft to aid in the search operation, as ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin. Two Russian helicopters will be sent from Armenia to the crash site, as reported by Iranian state news agency IRNA.

At the age of 63, Ebrahim Raisi, a conservative religious figure, was elected as Iran's eighth president following mass protests. He was expected to succeed Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as the country's supreme leader. Raisi announced his intention to focus on strengthening ties with China and Russia, the United States' adversaries, after winning the 2021 elections. Born in Mashhad, a holy city in Shia Islam, Raisi was married to Jamileh Alamolhoda, the daughter of an ultraconservative cleric. His presidency was marked by economic difficulties such as inflation and a plummeting currency caused by US sanctions. Raisi was also accused by the United States of human rights violations and was sanctioned in 2019. Amnesty International claimed he was involved in a covert group that executed opposition members in the late 1980s. His death coincided with Iran's first attack on Israel in recent weeks.

In the event of the president's death while in office, Article 131 of the Constitution mandates that the first vice president takes on the role of interim president, pending endorsement from the supreme leader. Mohammad Mokhber is presently serving as Iran's first vice president. Furthermore, a committee composed of the first vice president, the speaker of parliament, and the head of the judiciary is required to schedule a fresh presidential election within a 50-day time frame.

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