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Iran presidential helicopter in ‘accident’, search underway

Photo: Office of the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran

TEHRAN, May 19, 2024 (AFP) : A helicopter carrying Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi was involved in “an accident” in poor weather conditions on Sunday, state media reported, with a search underway and no news yet on his condition. 

Search and rescue team were headed to the remote mountain area, state media in the Islamic republic reported, adding that Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian was also aboard the aircraft.

“The harsh weather conditions and heavy fog have made it difficult for the rescue teams to reach the accident site,” state TV said in an on-screen news alert.

State TV broadcast footage of an Iranian Red Crescent team walking up a slope in thick fog, as well as live footage of crowds of worshippers reciting prayers in the holy Shrine happened to the helicopter carrying the president” in the Jofa region of the western province of East Azerbaijan, state television said.of Imam Reza in the city Mashhad, Raisi’s hometown.

Sunday’s accident happened in the mountainous protected forest area of Dizmar near the town of Varzaghan, said the official IRNA news agency.

Raisi, 63, was visiting the province Sunday where he inaugurated a dam project together with his Azeri counterpart, Ilham Aliev, on the border between the two countries.

His convoy included three helicopters, and the other two had “reached their destination safely,” according to Tasnim news agency.

IRNA said the foreign minister and local officials were travelling in the same helicopter as Raisi.

The reformist Shargh daily also reported that “the helicopter carrying the president crashed” while two other helicopters landed safely.

Later, Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi said one of the helicopters “made a hard landing due to bad weather conditions” and that it was “difficult to establish communication” with the aircraft.