Iranian President Found Dead After Helicopter Crash

Ebrahim Raisi and others on the helicopter confirmed dead in mountainous region
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 19, 2024 11:50 PM CDT
Iranian President Found Dead After Helicopter Crash
Rescuers carry the body of a victim after a helicopter carrying Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi crashed in Varzaghan in northwestern Iran, Monday, May 20, 2024.   (Azin Haghighi, Moj News Agency via AP)

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, the country's foreign minister, and others have been found dead at the site of a helicopter crash Monday after an hourslong search through a foggy, mountainous region of the country's northwest, state media reported. Raisi was 63, the AP reports. State TV gave no immediate cause for the crash in Iran's East Azerbaijan province. Among the dead was Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian, 60. Also with Raisi were the governor of Iran's East Azerbaijan province and other officials and bodyguards, the state-run IRNA news agency reported.

Early Monday morning, Turkish authorities released what they described as drone footage showing what appeared to be a fire in the wilderness that they "suspected to be wreckage of helicopter." The coordinates listed in the footage put the fire some 12 miles south of the Azerbaijan-Iranian border on the side of a steep mountain. Footage released by the IRNA early Monday showed what the agency described as the crash site, across a steep valley in a green mountain range. Soldiers speaking in the local Azeri language said: "There it is, we found it."

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei stressed the business of Iran's government would continue no matter what. Under the Iranian constitution, with Khamenei's assent, Iran's first vice president takes over if the president dies, and a new presidential election would be called within 50 days. First Vice President Mohammad Mokhber already had begun receiving calls from officials and foreign governments in Raisi's absence, state media reported. (More Ebrahim Raisi stories.)

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