Thursday, June 13, 2024

Iran’s President Raisi confirmed dead in helicopter crash

Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi has been confirmed killed after the helicopter he was travelling in crashed in poor weather.

The bodies of Raisi, as well as the foreign minister and others who were aboard, were found on Monday morning, some hours after their helicopter crashed in Iran’s wild northwest region, state media reported. The accident challenges the country’s senior leadership as Iran sits in the midst of heightened regional and global tensions centred on the war in Gaza.

Rescuers from the Iranian Red Crescent had fought through dense fog, blizzards and mountainous terrain to reach the site of the crash in the East Azerbaijan province. On finding the wreckage, they had reported “no sign of life”.

State TV gave no immediate cause for the crash, which also killed Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian, the governor of East Azerbaijan province, and other officials and bodyguards, according to the state-run IRNA News Agency.

“President Raisi’s helicopter was completely burned in the crash … unfortunately, all passengers are feared dead,” the Reuters news agency reported, quoting an unnamed Iranian official.

Raisi, 63, was elected president on his second attempt in 2021, and since taking office, has overseen a tightening of morality laws, a bloody crackdown on antigovernment protests triggered by the death in custody of 22-year-old woman Mahsa Amini, and taken a tougher approach to nuclear talks with world powers.

A black burned area on a wooded mountainside. The blue and white tail of a helicopter can be seen.

Last month, he ordered an unprecedented drone-and-missile attack on Israel, following an alleged Israeli strike on Iran’s embassy compound in Damascus which killed 13 people including a top commander and his deputy.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who holds ultimate power in Iran, had earlier sought to reassure Iranians, some of whom turned out to pray for Raisi’s wellbeing, saying there would be no disruption to state affairs.

Raisi, a hardliner who formerly led the country’s judiciary, is viewed as a protege of the 85-year-old Khamenei.




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