Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi’s helicopter crashes in heavy fog

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi

(Photo: YouTube)

Reuters reports that a helicopter carrying Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian crashed on Sunday while navigating mountainous terrain in dense fog.

According to an Iranian official, their lives were “at risk following the helicopter crash,” which occurred during their return from a visit to Iran’s border with Azerbaijan.

The official, speaking anonymously, expressed concern over the situation: “We are still hopeful but information coming from the crash site is very concerning.”

Bad weather has hindered rescue operations, as reported by the state news agency IRNA. In response, the chief of staff of Iran’s army has mobilized all available resources, including the elite Revolutionary Guard, for the search and rescue mission.

State television interrupted regular programming to broadcast prayers for Raisi and live updates on the rescue efforts. The rescue teams, traveling on foot through heavy fog, are expected to reach the crash site later on Sunday evening, state TV reported.

Raisi, 63, who assumed office in 2021, has enforced stricter morality laws, led a severe crackdown on anti-government protests, and taken a hardline stance in nuclear negotiations with global powers. Although the supreme leader holds ultimate authority in Iran’s political system, Raisi is considered a potential successor to his 85-year-old mentor, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Raisi’s 2021 election win, which followed the presidency of pragmatist Hassan Rouhani, consolidated hardliner control over all branches of government. Despite this, widespread protests and economic struggles under Western sanctions have potentially weakened Raisi’s standing.

The crash occurred after Raisi visited the Azerbaijani border to inaugurate the Qiz-Qalaisi Dam, a joint venture. Interior Minister Ahmed Vahidi told state TV that one of three helicopters had crashed and that more information was awaited.