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Raisi’s helicopter located, but rescue teams still searching for Iranian President and others

Several Iranian media outlets, citing the Red Crescent, reported that rescue teams have located President Ebrahim Raisi’s helicopter.

“Red Crescent search and rescue teams have reached the crash site of the helicopter carrying the president,” the Iranian Red Crescent stated.

However, the Red Crescent did not confirm whether President Raisi and his companions survived.

On Sunday, the helicopter carrying Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian crashed while traversing mountainous terrain in heavy fog, an Iranian official said.

The official noted that the lives of Raisi and Amirabdollahian were “at risk following the helicopter crash,” which occurred during their return from a visit to the border with Azerbaijan in Iran’s northwest.

“We remain hopeful, but the information from the crash site is very concerning,” the official, who requested anonymity, told Reuters.

According to IRNA, Governor of East Azerbaijan Province Malek Rahmati, Tabriz Friday prayer leader Hojjatoleslam Al Hashem, and several others were also on board the helicopter.

Rescue vehicles are seen following a crash of a helicopter carrying Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi, in Varzaqan, East Azerbaijan Province, Iran, May 19, 2024.

Anadolu news agency reported in an X post that a Turkish drone identified a heat source suspected to be the helicopter’s wreckage and shared the coordinates with Iranian authorities.

State TV also quoted an official saying that at least one passenger and one crew member had been in contact with rescuers.

State TV attributed the crash to bad weather, which was also complicating rescue efforts. The chief of staff of Iran’s army ordered all army and Revolutionary Guard resources to be deployed in the search and rescue operations.

Despite the challenges posed by the darkness and rain, rescue teams continued their search, according to state TV.

State TV later reported that the helicopter had been found, but Iran’s Red Crescent denied these reports.

IRNA interrupted its regular programming to broadcast prayers for Raisi across the country and live coverage of the rescue teams’ efforts in the mountainous area shrouded in heavy fog.

The accident occurred in the mountainous protected forest area of Dizmar near the town of Varzaghan, according to the official IRNA news agency.

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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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