Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and Top Officials Killed in Helicopter Crash

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi was a former cleric and judge known for his hard-line stance compared to his predecessor, Hassan Rouhani.

Ebrahim Raisi
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi dies in a helicopter crash.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, the country’s foreign minister, and other officials have been confirmed dead following a helicopter crash, according to Iranian state media on Monday.

In response to Raisi’s death, the Iranian government convened an emergency meeting. Subsequently, Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, appointed First Vice President Mohammad Mokhber as acting president and declared five days of national mourning.

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This tragic event leaves Iran without two key diplomatic figures amid heightened regional tensions due to the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict.

The state-run media reported that Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian, the governor of East Azerbaijan province, and other officials were also aboard the ill-fated helicopter. While the immediate cause of the crash remains unknown, state media released images of the wreckage, stating that the helicopter went down in foggy conditions in a mountainous area in northern Iran, following an event near the Azerbaijan border.

The Iranian Red Crescent Society confirmed the identification of Raisi’s helicopter earlier. Rescue and search teams had identified the crash site, and immediate international reactions ensued. Pakistan announced a day of mourning, and Russian President Vladimir Putin sent condolences to Khamenei.

Iranian Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi initially reported a “hard landing” of the president’s helicopter, with search-and-rescue operations underway. IRNA, Iran’s state news agency, indicated that two passengers had communicated with rescue workers. Twenty rescue teams, including drones and dogs, were dispatched, and the military was deployed to assist.

The Fars News Agency shared video footage of the rescue efforts, and earlier, the Iranian government’s social media account posted an image of Raisi with Azerbaijan’s president, Ilham Aliyev, at a dam opening along their shared border.

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Elected in 2021, Ebrahim Raisi was a former cleric and judge known for his hard-line stance compared to his predecessor, Hassan Rouhani. Despite Raisi’s commitment to Iran’s nuclear deal with the U.S. post-2018, his tenure has seen increased tensions, especially with Israel.

Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, holds ultimate authority over the country’s policies and military forces, including the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. According to Iran’s constitution, if the president dies in office, the first vice president assumes the role with the supreme leader’s approval, and a new election must be held within 50 days.

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