WORLD NEWS

Helicopter carrying Iranian President Raisi crashes, local media reports

May 19, 2024, 9:14 AM

FILE - Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi is pictured in New York in September 2023. A helicopter carr...

FILE - Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi is pictured in New York in September 2023. A helicopter carrying Raisi has been involved in an incident while he was visiting East Azerbaijan, Iran’s semi-official Tasnim news agency reported on X on May 19. (Jason DeCrow, Associated Press)

(Jason DeCrow, Associated Press)

(CNN) A helicopter carrying Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi crashed while visiting a northern region and his condition is currently unknown, Iranian state news agency IRNA reported Sunday.

The aircraft, which was also carrying Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian, came down in East Azerbaijan Province and emergency crews have so far been unable to reach it due to foggy conditions, IRNA said. It is unclear what the exact status is of Raisi’s helicopter.

Twenty rescue teams and drones have been sent to the area where the helicopter came down.

The pair along with a group of dignitaries were onboard the helicopter returning from a ceremony for an opening of a dam on Iran’s border with Azerbaijan when it “crashed upon landing in Varzaqan region on Sunday,” IRNA English reported.

“20 rescue teams and drones have been sent to the area, but due to the impassability of the area, its mountainous and forest conditions, as well as unfavorable weather conditions, especially heavy fog, the search and rescue operation will take time,” IRNA said.

IRNA also reported, citing locals, the helicopter crashed in the Dizmar Forest area between the villages of Ozi and Pir Davood. Residents in northern Varzeqan, East Azerbaijan Province, said they heard noises from the area, it added.

Iran’s interior minister Ahmad Vahidi said one of the helicopters was forced to make a hard landing due to foggy weather conditions.

“Now different rescue groups are moving towards the area but given that it is foggy and the unsuitable weather and the conditions it may take some time until they reach where the helicopter is,” said Vahidi during a televised address posted on Telegram by Iranian state news agency IRNA.

He added that there had been some contact with the passengers on the helicopter, “but given the area is a bit complicated, making contact is difficult and we are waiting inshallah for rescue groups to quickly reach the location of this accident where the helicopter is and give us more information.”

“From the beginning of this incident being reported regarding the President’s helicopter, Red Crescent Relief Forces and auxiliary military and law enforcement forces have started a widespread effort to find this helicopter,” Tasnim news agency reported.

“Some of the president’s companions on this helicopter were able to communicate with Central Headquarters, raising hopes that the incident could have ended without casualties,” Tasnim added.

The helicopter was part of a convoy of three helicopters. Two of those helicopters were carrying ministers and officials who arrived at their destination safely, according to Tasnim.


Correction: This story has been updated to correct that the reported incident took place in East Azerbaijan Province of Iran.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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Helicopter carrying Iranian President Raisi crashes, local media reports