Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi missing after helicopter crashes in mountains – as aides warn his ‘life is in danger’

Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi missing after helicopter crashes in mountains – as aides warn his ‘life is in danger’
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IRANIAN president Ebrahim Raisi’s “life is at risk” after his helicopter crashed in the mountains, officials said.

A massive search and rescue operation is underway after the chopper suffered a “hard landing” in heavy fog.

Ambulances and rescue vehicles lined up in the area of the crash

A search party on foot was apparently seen looking for the chopper in fog[/caption]

At least 40 teams have been deployed to the scene
Rescuers rushed to the scene but struggled due to poor visibility
Islamic Republic News Agency

The reported last picture of the helicopter before it crashed near Azerbaijani border[/caption]


Raisi pictured inspecting the Qiz Qalasi Dam hours before the crash[/caption]

The state TV is airing prayers for the president while his whereabouts remain unknown – with at least 40 rescue teams deployed to the crash site.

An Iranian official said the lives of Raisi and his foreign minister – who was also on board – are “at risk”.

“We are still hopeful but information coming from the crash site is very concerning,” the official said.

Footage showed cars speeding to the site in thick fog – and a search party on foot was seen searching for the helicopter, with ambulances and rescue vehicles lined up nearby.

No contact has been made with the helicopter, Tabriz parliamentary representative Ahmad Alirezabighi told local media.

Due to thick fog, a rescue helicopter has been unable to land, state news media reported.

The crash comes just weeks after Iran ordered an unprecedented missile blitz on Israel – which was branded “a declaration of war” by Tel Aviv.

Iran‘s interior minister, Ahmed Vahidi, said Raisi was on his way back from an inauguration event “when the helicopter carrying him had a hard landing due to the foggy weather in the area”.

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The incident was reported to have happened near Jolfa – a city on the border with Azerbaijan, some 375 miles northwest of Tehran.

A frantic search is underway with Red Crescent, military personnel and police support units deployed to the site.

Rescuers have resorted to using drones in a bid to locate the missing helicopter.

Mr Vahidi said the rescue operation “will take time”.

He told state TV: “Efforts are underway, and we hope to reach a resolution soon.

“It’s a complicated area, and making contact is difficult. We are waiting for teams to reach the area for more information.”

Search efforts have reportedly been concentrated around a copper mine where visibility is currently less than five metres.

The governor of East Azerbaijan province and Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian were among the passengers travelling alongside Raisi.

Their chopper was one of three in a convoy – with the other two helicopters landing safely at their destination.

The US State Department said it is “closely watching” reports of the crash.

Iran flies a variety of helicopters but struggles to obtain new parts for them because of international sanctions.

The country’s military air fleet also dates back to before the Islamic revolution of 1979.

Raisi, 63, secured a victory during the 2021 presidential election, which saw the lowest turnout in the country’s history.

He is sanctioned by US for his involvement in a massacre of thousands of political activists in 1988 as the bloody Iran-iraq war neared its end.

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Under his rule, Iran has ramped up its uranium production at nearly nuke-grade level and obstructed international inspections.

Iran has also been supplying Putin’s illegal war in Ukraine and backed Houthi rebels who have spent months waging war on commercial shipping in the Red Sea.

It comes weeks after Iran unleashed an unprecedented drone-and-missile attack on Jerusalem which was branded “a declaration of war” by Israel.

More than 300 drones and missiles were launched at Israel by Iran and its proxy groups in Lebanon and Yemen – 99 per cent of which were intercepted, according to the Israeli military.

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Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi pictured with a helicopter convoy while visiting Firuzkuh after floods in July 2022[/caption]


Footage showed cars speeding to the site in thick fog[/caption]


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