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Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi Reportedly Dies in Helicopter Crash

Tehran – Iranian state media reported that President Ebrahim Raisi died on Monday following a helicopter crash in a mountainous region of the country. The government has yet to confirm the leader’s death officially.

Rescue teams had been searching the area since Sunday afternoon after a helicopter carrying Raisi, the foreign minister, and other officials went missing. Early Monday, relief workers located the helicopter, and state TV announced Raisi’s death.

“The servant of the Iranian nation, Ayatollah Ebrahim Raisi, has achieved the highest level of martyrdom while serving the people,” stated state television, with Mehr news agency also confirming his death. State TV broadcast photos of Raisi, accompanied by the recitation of the Koran. Iran’s Vice President for Executive Affairs, Mohsen Mansouri, posted a Koranic verse expressing condolences.

Ultraconservative Leader

Concerns had been growing for the 63-year-old ultraconservative president after contact was lost with the helicopter carrying him, Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, and others in East Azerbaijan province on Sunday. Nine people were on board, according to Tasnim news agency.

Pirhossein Koolivand, Iran’s Red Crescent chief, stated that rescue teams headed towards the crash site upon locating the helicopter. “We are seeing the helicopter. The situation is not good,” he said, adding that there was no sign of the passengers being alive.

Iranian media, including Fars news agency, shared drone images of the helicopter wreckage. State TV first reported the incident on Sunday afternoon, stating that the helicopter had “made a hard landing” in bad weather.

Government Response and International Reactions

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei urged Iranians not to worry about the country’s leadership, assuring that “there will be no disruption in the country’s work.”

Expressions of concern and offers of help came from Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Russia, China, Turkey, and the European Union, which activated its rapid response mapping service to aid in the search.

Iran’s cabinet held an emergency meeting led by Vice President Mohammad Mokhber. The search involved army, Revolutionary Guard, and police officers. Raisi had been in the northwestern province to inaugurate a dam project with Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev. Aliyev expressed his condolences on X (formerly Twitter).

Broader Context

Raisi became president in 2021, succeeding moderate Hassan Rouhani. His tenure saw economic challenges due to US sanctions over Iran’s nuclear program and widespread protests following the death of Mahsa Amini in police custody in 2022.

The region has been tense due to the Gaza war between Israel and Hamas, with Tehran launching rockets at Israel earlier this year. Raisi’s last speech emphasized Iran’s support for Palestinians.

Hamas expressed solidarity with Iran, stating, “In this painful incident, we express our full solidarity with the Islamic Republic of Iran, its leadership, government, and people.”

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