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Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi Dies in Helicopter Crash: Iranian Media

May 20, 2024
Ebrahim Raisi

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi has tragically died in a helicopter crash, state media reported today. The accident, which also claimed the life of Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, occurred as the helicopter was traversing mountainous terrain in heavy fog. This catastrophic incident has plunged the nation into mourning.

President Raisi, aged 63, and his foreign minister were en route to the Iranian city of Tabriz following the inauguration of the Qiz Qalasi Dam on the border shared with Azerbaijan. The helicopter lost contact with air traffic control approximately 30 minutes into the flight, triggering a large-scale search and rescue operation involving over 60 rescue teams, including the army, Revolutionary Guard forces, and police units.

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State television paid homage to the late president, stating, “The servant of the Iranian nation, Ayatollah Ebrahim Raisi, has achieved the highest level of martyrdom whilst serving the people.” Video footage from the crash site reveals the challenging conditions faced by rescue teams in the foggy, mountainous region.

Initial reports from Iranian state media described the crash as an “accident.” Deputy President for Executive Affairs Mohsen Mansouri noted that some members of the president’s entourage had managed to contact rescue teams, initially raising hopes that the incident might not have been fatal. However, these hopes were dashed with the confirmation of President Raisi’s death.

Amidst the chaotic search efforts, Deputy Foreign Minister for Economic Diplomacy Mehdi Safari reported that a phone call had been made to President Raisi from the downed helicopter, indicating that there was initial communication post-crash. However, this communication ceased shortly thereafter.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei addressed the nation, urging calm and ensuring that governance would continue uninterrupted. “We hope that Almighty God will bring our dear president and his companions back in full health into the arms of the nation,” he stated in a televised address.

The international community has expressed deep condolences and offered assistance in the wake of this tragedy. Countries such as Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Russia, Turkey, and the European Union have extended their support.

US President Joe Biden has been briefed on the incident, with the State Department closely monitoring the situation. Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani expressed gratitude for the international solidarity shown during this difficult time.

This tragic event follows a period of heightened regional tensions, notably amid the ongoing Gaza conflict and Iran’s escalating hostilities with Israel. President Raisi, who took office in 2021, had recently reaffirmed Iran’s unwavering support for Palestine, a commitment he underscored during his speech at the dam inauguration.

As Iran mourns the loss of its leader, the search for answers continues, and the nation braces for the challenges ahead.

Ditible Staff

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