Iranian president missing, presumed dead after helicopter crashes

Tehran on edge after helicopter carrying Iran’s president and foreign minister crashes in mountains.

By David Rosenberg, World Israel News

Iran’s president and foreign minister are both missing Sunday, after the helicopter they were being transported in crashed in a mountainous region of northwestern Iran.

A number of Iranian officials were reportedly travelling in the helicopter, including President Ebrahim Raisi, Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian, the regional governor of the Iranian province of East Azerbaijan, among others, according to IRNA.

Iranian authorities said the helicopter suffered a “hard landing” near Jolfa, close to the border between the nation of Azerbaijan and the Iranian province of East Azerbaijan, 375 miles northwest of Tehran.

Iranian Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi said the helicopter carrying Raisi had been unable to proceed on its flight due to “bad weather,” and said heavy fog was impeding search efforts.

“The esteemed president and company were on their way back aboard some helicopters and one of the helicopters was forced to make a hard landing due to the bad weather and fog,” Vahidi said on state TV.

“Various rescue teams are on their way to the region but because of the poor weather and fogginess it might take time for them to reach the helicopter.”

“The region is a bit rugged and it’s difficult to make contact. We are waiting for rescue teams to reach the landing site and give us more information.”

Hamid Monjem, chief of the local Red Crescent Society, said that while the Iranian military has deployed forces for the search and rescue operation, thus far they have been unable to make progress due to the difficult weather conditions.

“Armed forces also came to the rescue and there are three drone units in the area, but they cannot operate due to weather conditions.”

Raisi was on a return flight from Azerbaijan, after having taken part in an inauguration ceremony for a dam built jointly by Iran and Azerbaijan on the Aras River.

According to a report by Iran’s Tasnim media outlet, Mohammad Bagheri, chief of staff of the Iranian military, has ordered the armed forces and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps mobilized to join the search effort.

“The armed forces, the army, the IRGC and police command were all present in the area from the initial hours,” Bagheri said.