Ebrahim Raisi: Iranian president lacking after helicopter crash in heavy fog | EUROtoday

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Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi, his international minister and different officers are lacking after a helicopter crashed on Sunday in a mountainous border area throughout heavy fog.

The Bell 212 civilian plane went down between Jolfa and Varzaqan, a area on the border of Azerbaijani exclave Nakhchivan, round 600km (375 miles) northwest of the Iranian capital Tehran.

It was carrying Raisi, 63, and Iranian international minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian, the governor of Iran’s East Azerbaijan province and different officers and bodyguards, the state-run IRNA information company reported.

The plane suffered what state TV known as a “hard landing” after it acquired into problem throughout heavy fog following a go to with the Azerbaijani president to debate an infrastructure venture over the Aras River, which separates Iran and Nakhchivan.

“We are still hopeful but information coming from the crash site is very concerning,” an Iranian official stated. He added that Raisi’s life was “at risk”.

Forty rescue groups together with Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, ambulances, surgeons, drones and canines had been scrambled to find the helicopter, which was hampered by rain, fog and darkish situations.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, ambulances, surgeons, drones and canines had been scrambled to find the helicopter (AP)

The chief of workers of Iran’s military ordered all assets of the military and the elite Revolutionary Guards to be put to make use of in search and rescue operations.

“We are thoroughly searching every inch of the general area of the crash,” state media quoted a regional military commander as saying. “The area has very cold, rainy, and foggy weather conditions. The rain is gradually turning into snow.”

On Sunday, Iranian state TV reported the helicopter had been discovered and quoted an official claiming a passenger and crew member had been contacted. However, Iran’s Red Crescent denied the experiences.

State media has but to report on casualties or affirm the whereabouts or situation of the president – however urged Iranians to wish for the president.

Iran’s supreme chief Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who holds final energy with a ultimate say on international coverage and Iran’s nuclear programme, sought to reassure Iranians and urged them to wish for the president’s well being.

“We hope that Almighty God will return the president and his companions to the nation, everyone should pray for their health. The people of Iran should not be worried, there will be no disruption in the work of the country,” Mr Khamenei stated.

In Tehran, Iranian women and men had been pictured publicly praying for Mr Raisi, with some kneeling down and a few holding their fingers to the sky.

Meanwhile, many nations have supplied their assist to Iran, together with allies similar to Russia, neighbours similar to Turkey, Azerbaijan and Armenia, and the EU.

Russia stated it was prepared to increase “all necessary help” within the seek for the lacking helicopter and it hoped the president was nonetheless alive.

The EU additionally stated it had supplied a satellite tv for pc mapping service to Iran in response to a request by Tehran for assist.

In Tehran, Iranian women and men had been pictured publicly praying for his or her lacking president (AFP)

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan added he was “deeply saddened” by the crash and was prepared to supply help to Iran.

“I convey my best wishes to our neighbour, friend and brother Iranian people and government, and I hope to receive good news from Mr Raisi and his delegation as soon as possible,” Mr Erdogan stated.

President Raisi is a hardliner who previously led the nation’s judiciary. He is seen as a protégé of Mr Khamenei and a few analysts have prompt he might change the 85-year-old chief after his dying or resignation from the function.

President Raisi gained Iran’s 2021 presidential election, a vote that noticed the bottom turnout within the Islamic Republic’s historical past.

President Raisi is a hardliner who previously led the nation’s judiciary (Getty)

He is sanctioned by the US partly over his involvement within the mass execution of hundreds of political prisoners in 1988 on the finish of the bloody Iran-Iraq conflict.

Iran now enriches uranium at almost weapons-grade degree and hampers worldwide inspections. The nation has armed Russia in its conflict on Ukraine, and launched a large drone-and-missile assault on Israel amid its conflict in opposition to Hamas within the Gaza Strip.

It additionally has continued arming proxy teams within the Middle East, like Yemen’s Houthi rebels and Lebanon’s Hezbollah.