Missing Iranian President Dead After Helicopter Crash in Mountains

iranian president missing

Getty The Iranian president (r) and the helicopter.

The president of Iran, Ebrahim Raisi, is dead after his helicopter crashed in mountainous terrain on May 19 after bad weather, according to CNN.

Iranian news sites earlier softened the terminology, referring to the helicopter incident as a tough or hard landing. But CNN later reported that there were no survivors.

For hours, it was not known whether he is dead or alive.

Nour News, an Iranian news site, reported that rescue teams are struggling to reach the crash site because of the “terrain and natural obstacles.” The news site reported this has made “communication with the President’s team nearly impossible.”

That site and other Iranian sites initially reported that Raisi’s helicopter made a “hard landing” in the mountains. CNN reported that the president’s helicopter had crashed.

According to The Tehran Times, Raisi “was traveling in East Azarbaijan province” when the incident occurred near Jolfa, which is located near Iran’s border with the Republic of Azerbaijan, which Raisi was visiting “to inaugurate a dam with Ilham Aliyev, the president of the Republic of Azerbaijan.”

Mohsen Mansouri, the executive vice president of Iran, told Tasnim News that three helicopters were moving together when “the communication of the president’s helicopter was cut off.”

The site reported that “Hossein Amirabdollahian, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Malik Rahmati, Governor of East Azarbaijan, and Ayatollah Al-Hashem, Imam of Tabriz and the representative of the religious jurist in East Azarbaijan, were also present in the helicopter carrying the president.”

It’s Not Clear How Damaged the Helicopter Is Because of Weather Issues Hampering the Rescue Efforts, Iranian Media Reported

iranian president

GettyIn this handout image supplied by the Office of the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi visits the site of a road and rail bridge project over the Aras River, following an inauguration ceremony with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, after which his helicopter has reportedly crashed near the city of Jolfa, on the border with Azerbaijan on May 19, 2024 in Jabrayil, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Office of the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran via Getty Images)

According to Nour News, it’s possible the pilot made an emergency landing due to the weather, which could mean the helicopter is “likely not seriously damaged,” but, because of the weather “and environmental factors,” none of that will be clear until rescuers can reach the chopper.

Initial reports out of the Tehran Times were also that the president’s helicopter suffered a “tough landing” in “dense fog.”

Nour News reported that “no reports of explosions or fires have been received from the hard landing area,” which may bode well for the president and his companions.

Al-Jazeera reported that Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian was also on the president’s helicopter. The site reported that the Iranian military has now received “signals” from “the helicopter and the mobile phone of a member of the flight crew.”

An Iranian official told Iranian site Tasnim News, “A communication was established with one of the passengers of the president’s helicopter and the flight crew, which shows that the severity of the accident was not too high. Because two people contacted us on several occasions.”

Pirhossein Kolivand, head of the Red Crescent Society, told Tasnim News: “Our 40 rapid response teams are searching the region.” The site reported; “The weather conditions are very unfavorable and the place is difficult to navigate, and efforts are being made with all efforts.”

Kolivand added to Tasnim News: “We also used drones and aerial equipment, but due to the bad weather conditions, it is not possible to conduct a complete aerial search.”

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei Wrote That He Hopes ‘That Almighty God Will Return Our Dear President & His Companions’

iranian president crash

GettyIn this photo provided by Islamic Republic News Agency IRNA on May 19, 2024, shows the helicopter carrying Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi taking off at the Iranian border with Azerbaijan after the inauguration of the dam of Qiz Qalasi, in Aras. A helicopter in the convoy of the Iranian president was involved in “an accident” in East Azerbaijan province on May 19, state television reported, without specifying if the president was on board.

Iranian leader Ali Khamenei confirmed on his website that the “worrying incident” involved “Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and his delegation.”

“We hope that Almighty God will return our dear president and his companions [from today’s alarming incident] to the arms of the nation in complete health. Of course, we should pray, you should also pray, everyone should pray, for the health of this group of servants, Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei wrote on X.

He also wrote: “Our dear people should be sure that there will be no disruption in the work of the country… All the work of the country will go smoothly, God willing. Both the security of the country, the security of the borders, and the rest of the work that should be done at the national level by the executive branch are done…”

His website contained similar messages, such as, “Everyone should pray for health of President & we hope God will return him to arms of the nation.” The website notes, “In a meeting with a group of families of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps held on the occasion of the birth anniversary of Imam Reza (pbuh), Leader of the Islamic Revolution, Imam Khamenei expressed his concerns for the worrying incident this afternoon for Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and his delegation.”