Iran: “accident” of a presidential helicopter, uncertainty remains over the fate of President Raïssi

Europe 1 with AFP / Photo credit: ISHARA S.KODIKARA / AFP
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4:06 p.m., May 19, 2024

An Iranian presidential helicopter was involved in an “accident” in the northwest of the country on Sunday, and uncertainty remained over the fate of President Ebrahim Raïssi, who would be one of the passengers on board, announced official media. The head of state visited East Azerbaijan province on Sunday.

Searches were underway on Sunday afternoon in northwest Iran to find the helicopter carrying President Ebrahim Raïssi, who was the victim of an “accident”, officials and state media announced. A search was launched to find the helicopter, but was made difficult by “unfavorable weather conditions”, including fog, Interior Minister Ahmed Vahidi said on state television.

The minister did not confirm whether President Raïssi was on board the aircraft, which was part of a convoy of three helicopters carrying the presidential delegation. “It may take time to reach the helicopter area,” he added, although this location would be located in the Dizmar forest, near the town of Varzaghan.

“An accident in the province of East Azerbaijan”

The television had previously indicated that, according to “some unconfirmed information”, the helicopter carrying President Raisi had “an accident in the province of East Azerbaijan”. The official IRNA news agency then reported that Ebrahim Raïssi, as well as the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, were among the passengers on the plane.

Ebrahim Raïssi visited the province of Eastern Azerbaijan on Sunday, where he notably inaugurated a dam in the company of the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliev, on the border between the two countries. State television said thick fog was making searches difficult in the mountainous region. Ebrahim Raïssi, a 63-year-old ayatollah, has been president of the Islamic Republic since June 2021.

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