Iranian president, foreign minister killed in helicopter crash

Tehran’s announcement of their deaths came 16 hours after contact was lost with the helicopter.


Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi was killed in a helicopter crash in the country’s northwestern East Azerbaijan province on Sunday, Iranian state media confirmed on Monday morning.

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, Mohammad Ali Ale-Hashem, the regime’s representative in East Azerbaijan and Malek Rahmati, the province’s governor, were also killed, along with the pilot and co-pilot.

U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres (right) meets with Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran, in New York on April 18, 2024 Credit: Evan Schneider/U.N. Photo.

They were returning from an inauguration ceremony for a dam built jointly by Iran and Azerbaijan on the Aras River.

Tehran’s announcement of their deaths came 16 hours after contact was lost with the helicopter. The Iranian Red Crescent reported after some 14 hours of searching that the helicopter’s remains had been located.

Iran’s official IRNA news outlet said rescuers arrived 30 minutes after the incident was reported and started their search on steep mountain sides during a snowstorm.

An Iranian official told Reuters that “President Raisi’s helicopter was completely burned in the crash…unfortunately, all passengers are feared dead.”

Read  Israeli cyber chief: Iranian attacks have tripled since Oct. 7

According to reports, Raisi’s convoy included three helicopters; the two other choppers arrived safely at their destination. The weather was foggy at the time of the crash.

Raisi, known as the “butcher of Tehran” for his role in the 1988 massacre of 30,000 political prisoners, was elected president in 2021. The hardline leader has repeatedly called for the destruction of the State of Israel.

He succeeded Hassan Rouhani, who served eight years in the office—from 2013 to 2021.