Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Iranian president ‘missing’ after helicopter crash

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Hardliner Ebrahim Raisi was elected President of Iran in 2021 (Picture: Iranian Presidency Office via AP)

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi is missing after a helicopter in his convoy crashed this afternoon.

There is a ‘high probability of casualties’ due to the helicopter crash’s ‘high level of severity’, Iranian television quoted a source as saying.

It is not yet clear whether Raisi survived the crash, as the Iranian Ministry of Internal Affairs refused to confirm his condition.

Roughly 20 rescue teams, including drones and search dogs, are trying to reach the scene of what Iranian media are calling a ‘hard landing’.

But bad weather conditions and inaccessible terrain are said to be hampering their efforts to access the site of the helicopter’s last GPS signal.

The helicopter is believed to have come down in a forested area in the mountains just south of Iran’s border with Azerbaijan, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) said on its Telegram channel.

East Azerbaijan province where the incident occurred is currently experience 19C heat with a light to strong breeze and showers expected this evening.

Snowy conditions are currently affecting the mountains, the Red Crescent said. There is also a ‘thick fog’ in the area, according to the IRGC.

Injuries have been reported among passengers of the downed aircraft, ISNA News Agency.

President Raisi’s condition is not yet known.

An earlier report from Mehr news declaring ‘the President of Iran is fine and is traveling by car to Tabriz’ has been deleted.

Injuries have been reported after the helicopter crash, but it is not clear whether President Raisi is among the wounded (Pictire: Wana News Agency via Reuters)

The Iranian military’s special forces have also joined the search.

A hardline conservative, President Raisi had just visited the neighbouring country of Azerbaijan, where he appeared with his counterpart Ilham Aliyev for the inauguration of a dam.

The 63-year-old was elected President in 2021 after eight years of reformist leadership in Iran.

A longtime jurist and former chief justice, Raisi has been tipped as the most likely person to succeed Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

Raisi’s presidency has been plagued with protests against deteriorating economic conditions and the oppression of women, often resulting in violent crackdowns on the opposition and members of the public.

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