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Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi confirmed dead after helicopter crash

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi is confirmed dead after rescuers found a helicopter carrying him and other officials that had crashed in the mountainous northwest reaches of Iran the day before. He was 63 years old.

Raisi, Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian; Governor of Eastern Azerbaijan province Malek Rahmati, Tabriz’s Friday prayer Imam Mohammad Ali Alehashem as well as a pilot, copilot, crew chief, head of security and another bodyguard, were all on board, according to Iranian media. All nine have been declared dead.

‘President Raisi, the foreign minisiter and all the passengers in the helicopter were killed in the crash,’ a senior Iranian official told Reuters.

ALSO READ: Helicopter carrying politicians crashes after hitting power line (video)

Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi confirmed dead
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi

State TV gave no immediate cause for the crash in Iran´s East Azerbaijan province.

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.’ An Iranian official said search teams who located the wreckage found ‘no sign of life’.

Mohammad Mokhber, 68, Iran’s first vice president, would assume the role of interim president upon Raisi’s death. Mokhber already had begun receiving calls from officials and foreign governments in Raisi´s absence, state media said .

It was also reported that the nation’s government held an ‘urgent meeting’ Monday, with Raisi’s usual chair left vacant and covered in a black sash in his memory.

Rescue teams fought blizzards and difficult terrain through the night to reach the wreckage in East Azerbaijan province in the early hours of Monday.

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 the wreckage of the 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.

State media claimed that allied Russia sent a 50-man specialist mountain rescue unit to assist the search.

The Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations confirmed it in a Telegram post.

Approximately 73 teams, plus detector dogs, were involved, per Iran’s Red Crescent.

ALSO READ: Sad day as Nigeria’s first female combat helicopter pilot, dies in road crash

Simon Kabutey
Simon Kabutey
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