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Martyrdom in the line of duty: President Raisi and FM Abdollahian died in chopper crash: Interim President Mohammad Mokhber takes charge

TEHRAN: In a tragic helicopter crash, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian, along with other officials, lost their lives while traveling to the provincial capital city of Tabriz.

On Sunday, a helicopter carrying Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi made a “tough landing” during a visit to the country’s northwest, national TV reported. The crash occurred near the Sungun copper mine, located between Jolfa and Varzaqan in East Azerbaijan province, approximately 70 to 100 kilometers (43 to 62 miles) from Tabriz, where the officials were headed.

The dense fog in the region complicated rescue efforts, making it difficult for teams to reach the crash site. Since Sunday afternoon, 40 separate rescue teams have been dispatched to the forested and mountainous area.

Due to harsh weather, the region is only accessible by ground, as aerial approaches are unfeasible. The terrain and natural obstacles also hampered communication with the president’s entourage.

An Iranian television reporter noted that as night fell and temperatures dropped, rescue crews avoided traveling by car because the unpaved roads had become muddy from the rain.

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian, East Azerbaijan Province Governor Malek Rahmati, and Tabriz’s Friday prayer leader Ayatollah Mohammad Ali Ale-Hashem were also aboard the helicopter.

Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, the Leader of the Islamic Revolution, expressed concern about the missing helicopter in a meeting with families of IRGC personnel, urging prayers for the health of the president and his companions. He reassured the nation that there would be no disruption in the country’s work.

On Sunday afternoon, Mohammad Bagheri, the chief of staff of the Iranian armed forces, ordered all available resources from the army, the IRGC, and law enforcement forces to be used in the search for the helicopter.

People across various Iranian cities gathered to pray for President Raisi and his companions. The president had been in East Azerbaijan earlier that day to inaugurate a dam with Ilham Aliyev, the president of the Republic of Azerbaijan.

According to national TV, Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi stated that the helicopter was forced to make an emergency landing due to poor weather conditions. Contrary to rumors on social media, an informed source reported that the Supreme National Security Council had not held an emergency meeting regarding the accident.

In a show of regional solidarity, countries including Turkey, Italy, and Qatar expressed their support for Iran following the accident. Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, who had met with Raisi earlier on Sunday, emphasized Azerbaijan’s readiness to assist, stating, “As a neighboring, friendly, and brotherly nation, Azerbaijan is prepared to provide any necessary support.”

The Iraqi government also directed its Interior Ministry, the Red Crescent, and other relevant bodies to offer help to Iran. Yemen’s Supreme Political Council and a spokesperson for the Russian Foreign Ministry also expressed their readiness to assist in the search efforts.

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I am an experienced writer, analyst, and author. My exposure in English journalism spans more than 28 years. In the past, I have been working with daily The Muslim (Lahore Bureau), daily Business Recorder (Lahore/Islamabad Bureaus), Daily Times, Islamabad, daily The Nation (Lahore and Karachi). With daily The Nation, I have served as Resident Editor, Karachi. Since 2009, I have been working as a Freelance Writer/Editor for American organizations.

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