Iranian president and foreign minister in helicopter crash

A helicopter carrying Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian crashed on Sunday while traversing mountainous terrain in heavy fog. The incident occurred as they were returning from a visit to the border with Azerbaijan, an Iranian official told Reuters.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, expressed grave concern about the situation, stating, “The lives of Raisi and Foreign Minister Amirabdollahian were at risk following the helicopter crash. We are still hopeful, but information coming from the crash site is very concerning.”

Adverse weather conditions are hampering rescue efforts, as reported by the state news agency IRNA. State television interrupted regular programming to broadcast prayers for Raisi’s safety and live updates of rescue teams navigating the foggy mountainous area on foot.

President Raisi, 63, was elected in 2021 and has since implemented stricter morality laws, overseen a violent crackdown on anti-government protests, and taken a firm stance in nuclear negotiations with global powers.

Despite the dual political system in Iran, where the supreme leader has the ultimate authority, Raisi is viewed by many as a potential successor to the 85-year-old Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has endorsed Raisi’s policies.

Interior Minister Ahmed Vahidi confirmed on state TV that one of the helicopters in a group of three had made a hard landing, and authorities were still awaiting more information.

Raisi had been at the Azerbaijani border to inaugurate the Qiz-Qalaisi Dam, a joint project between Iran and Azerbaijan.

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