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Iran's president missing after helicopter crash in dense fog

Arsalan Shahla, Bloomberg News on

Published in News & Features

Rescue teams are searching into the night to try to locate Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi after his helicopter crashed on his way back from a visit to the country’s northwest.

There was dense fog in the region, making conditions difficult for search teams, state media said, without giving a direct cause for the incident on Sunday. Iran’s government spokesman, Ali Bahadori Jahromi, said late in the evening on X that there were “no new updates” and that the country was grappling with a “difficult and complicated situation.”

Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, urged people to pray for Raisi’s health and said there “won’t be any disruption to the country’s affairs” as a result of the incident, according to a statement shown on state TV.

Raisi’s air fleet consisted of three helicopters with high-ranking officials including Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian, the semi-official Tasnim news agency reported. Amirabdollahian was believed to be on board Raisi’s aircraft at the time.

The U.S. is closely following reports of the incident, a State Department spokesperson said without further comment.

‘Extremely difficult’ search


Almost 10 hours into the search, it was “extremely difficult” because of darkness and heavy fog and rain, Pirhossein Koulivand, head of Iran’s Emergency Medical Services, told state TV. Earlier, Iran’s interior minister, Ahmad Vahidi, said finding the president’s helicopter was likely to take time because of the adverse conditions.

Turkey’s state disaster management agency, AFAD, said Iran requested a search-and-rescue helicopter with night vision capabilities. Some 32 rescue and research personnel as well as six vehicles were also sent to Iran, AFAD said in a post on X.

The Turkish ministry of defense said it dispatched an Akinci drone in response to a request from Iran. It also said a Cougar helicopter remains on alert to be deployed depending on weather conditions.

The European Union activated its rapid response mapping service following a request for help from Iran, the bloc’s Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarčič, said in a post on X.


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