Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi and foreign minister killed in helicopter crash, official says

Tyler Mitchell By Tyler Mitchell Jun9,2024
Key Points
  • A helicopter carrying Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and his foreign minister crashed in northwest Iran.
  • Rescue teams fought blizzards and difficult terrain through the night to reach the wreckage.
  • The president and foreign minister had been inaugurating a dam project near the border with Azerbaijan.
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and his foreign minister have been killed in a helicopter crash in mountainous terrain, an Iranian official said.
There was initially no official confirmation of the fate of nine people on board the aircraft, which included Raisi and foreign minister Hossein Amirabdollahian.
The helicopter was returning from the Azerbaijani border when it crashed in heavy fog, a senior Iranian official later confirmed.
Rescue teams fought blizzards and difficult terrain through the night to reach the wreckage in East Azerbaijan province in the early hours of Monday.

A Turkish drone identified a source of heat suspected to be the helicopter’s wreckage and had shared the co-ordinates of the possible crash site with Iranian authorities, Anadolu news agency said earlier on X.

What we know so far about the crash

On Sunday, Iranian state television had reported that a helicopter carrying Raisi had been in an accident in the Jolfa region of East Azerbaijan province amid poor weather conditions.
Raisi had earlier inaugurated a dam project with his Azeri counterpart, Ilham Aliyev, on the border between the two countries.

Iran’s interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi described the accident as a “hard landing due to the weather conditions”.

A satellite map image

The helicopter crashed near the border of Iran and Azerbaijan. Credit: SBS News

Raisi’s convoy comprised three helicopters including two that landed safely in the northwestern city of Tabriz.

Vahidi said it was “difficult to establish communication” with the third helicopter which was carrying Raisi.

Amirabdollahian was also on board along with the governor of East Azerbaijan and the province’s main imam (Islamic religious leader), according to IRNA news agency.

A man wearing a dark suit jacket and white shirt speaking into a microphone

Irans’s foreign minister Hossein Amirabdollahian. Source: Getty / Atta Kenare

Who is Ebrahim Raisi?

Raisi, 63, has been president since 2021 when he succeeded the moderate Hassan Rouhani, at a time when the economy was battered by US sanctions over Iran’s contested nuclear program.
Since taking office, he had ordered a tightening of morality laws, oversaw a bloody crackdown on anti-government protests and pushed hard in nuclear talks with world powers.

In Iran’s dual political system, split between the clerical establishment and the government, it is Raisi’s 85-year-old mentor Khamenei, supreme leader since 1989, who holds decision-making power on all major policies.

For years, many saw Raisi as a strong contender to succeed Khamenei, who has endorsed Raisi’s main policies. Raisi’s election victory brought all branches of power under the control of hardliners, after eight years when the presidency had been held by pragmatist Hassan Rouhani and a nuclear deal negotiated with the United States.
However, Raisi’s standing may have been dented by widespread protests against clerical rule and a failure to turn around Iran’s economy, hamstrung by Western sanctions.

Raisi had been at the Azerbaijani border on Sunday to inaugurate the Qiz-Qalasi Dam, a joint project.

What is expected to happen now politically in Iran?

Iran’s vice-president Mohmmad Mokhber will take over presidential duties following Raisi’s death, according to Iran’s constitution.

Presidential elections should be arranged within 50 days, the constitution says.

Tyler Mitchell

By Tyler Mitchell

Tyler is a renowned journalist with years of experience covering a wide range of topics including politics, entertainment, and technology. His insightful analysis and compelling storytelling have made him a trusted source for breaking news and expert commentary.

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One thought on “Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi and foreign minister killed in helicopter crash, official says”
  1. Such tragic news! My deepest condolences to the families of President Raisi and Foreign Minister Amirabdollahian. May they rest in peace. It’s heartbreaking to see such promising leaders lost in such a tragic accident.

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