Mapped: Where did Iran President Ebrahim Raisi’s helicopter crash?

The helicopter is believed to have crashed around 80 miles from where it took off on Sunday afternoon

Tom Watling
Tuesday 21 May 2024 11:22 BST
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Rescue team at crash site
Rescue team at crash site (MOJ News Agency/AFP via Getty Im)

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, a hardliner and potential successor to the country’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has been killed in a helicopter crash.

The helicopter took off from the Khodaafarin Dam, in the Iranian province of East Azerbaijan, on Sunday afternoon.

Raisi, along with Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian, had been taking part in the inauguration of the dam alongside the president of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev.

But the helicopter later crashed in a remote and mountainous region in the Arasbaran Forest, near the border with Azerbaijan in the Varzeqan region. The helicopter had been carrying both Raisi and Amirabdollahian, as well as six other passengers and crew.

The rough distance between where the helicopter is believed to have gone down and the Khodaafarin Dam is around 80 miles.

State media reported that there had been blizzards and foggy conditions during the flight, weather that rescuers have since had to navigate to reach the crash site. State media claimed the poor conditions were the cause of the crash, though the two other helicopters in Raisi’s convoy reportedly “reached their destination safely”, according to the Tasmin news agency.

Raisi’s death was confirmed in a statement on social media by Vice President Mohsen Mansouri and on state television. First Vice President Mohammad Mokhber has taken over as interim president, with an election needing to be held within 50 days.

State media reported that images from the site showed the US-made Bell 212 helicopter slammed into a mountain peak, although there was no official word on the cause of the crash. The dead also included the governor of East Azerbaijan Province and a senior imam from Tabriz city.

Raisi, 63, was elected president in 2021, and since taking office has ordered a tightening of morality laws, overseen a bloody crackdown on anti-government protests and pushed hard in nuclear talks with world powers.

The crash happened some 400 miles from the Iranian capital of Tehran.

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