Today: Jun 20, 2024

Iranian President, others involved in chopper crash

1 min read

Details awaiting, rescue teams on the job

New Delhi: A helicopter carrying Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi and other local officials was involved in a “crash upon landing” in Varzaqan region of the country under poor weather conditions on Sunday, state media Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) reported, with search and rescue efforts underway but no news yet on his condition.

Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian, Governor of East Azerbaijan province Malek Rahmati and others were also onboard the convoy, which comprised of three helicopters, of which the other two have landed safely.

The accident occurred when Raisi was returning from his visit of East Azerbaijan province where he inaugurated a dam project in the company of his Azeri counterpart, Ilham Aliev, on the border between the two countries.

“The harsh weather conditions and heavy fog have made it difficult for the rescue teams to reach the accident site,” state TV initially said in an on-screen news alert.

The head of the Iranian Red Crescent Society (IRCS), Pir Hossein Kolivand, was quoted as saying by Iran’s Tasnim news agency that “40 rapid response teams from the IRCS are currently conducting search operations” in the area where the helicopter carrying President Raisi was reported to have crashed.

Kolivand said that the “weather conditions are extremely unfavourable and the terrain is difficult to navigate,” but “we are making every effort to carry out the necessary actions.”

“We have utilised drones and aerial measures, but due to the poor weather conditions, aerial search operations are not feasible. The area is rugged and mountainous,” he added.

“We have also dispatched forces from specific provinces to ensure that more personnel are on-site.”

Meanwhile, Iran’s ISNA news agency reported that rescue teams have reached the crash site. They posted a video of rescue personnel on their X page.

Separately, an Iranian official told Reuters that the helicopter carrying Raisi and others crashed as it was crossing mountain terrain.

The official said the lives of both individuals were “at risk following the helicopter crash”.

“We are still hopeful but information coming from the crash site is very concerning,” said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The semi-official Fars news agency called on Iranians to pray for Raisi following the reports.

A spokesperson for the US State Department said it was “closely watching” reports of the helicopter crash.

Azerbaijan’s foreign ministry said the country was “deeply disturbed” by reports of the helicopter crash and prayed for “the safety of the government officials who were involved in the accident.

Deeply concerned by reports regarding President Raisi’s helicopter flight today. We stand in solidarity with the Iranian people in this hour of distress and pray for the wellbeing of the President and his entourage – PM Modi