Helicopter carrying Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi crashes in east Azerbaijan

New Delhi: A helicopter carrying Iranian President Ibrahim Raisi crashed in East Azerbaijan, several media outlets reported on Sunday. State television reported that rescuers were trying to reach the scene of the “incident”. No details were available on what happened to the helicopter.

Iran confirmed that the president was on board the helicopter with Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdullahian and two senior East Azerbaijani leaders.

president Ebrahim Raisi

According to Iran’s interior minister, search and rescue operations were hampered by heavy fog and adverse weather conditions. “We are still hopeful, but the information from the crash site is very worrying,” an Iranian official told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

In one corner of the screen, state television stopped its regular broadcast and showed rescue teams searching the mountainside on foot in thick fog to broadcast prayers for Raisi across the country.

According to Tehran Times, the presidential motorcade was accompanied by three helicopters, two of which arrived safely.

Raisi was in East Azerbaijan Province for the inauguration of the Little Khalasi Dam.

Iran operates a large number of helicopters domestically, but international sanctions have made it difficult to obtain spare parts. The military aviation fleet also appeared during the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

The 63-year-old Raisi is a hardliner, who previously led the country’s judiciary. He is seen as a protégé of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and some analysts have suggested he could replace the 85-year-old leader after his death or resignation.