Intense search for Iranian President Raisi after helicopter 'accident'

By AFP   May 19, 2024 | 06:07 pm PT
Intense search for Iranian President Raisi after helicopter 'accident'
Rescue forces gather to search for the helicopter carrying Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in the Jolfa region, East Azerbaijan Province on May 19, 2024. Photo by AFP
Iranian search and rescue teams were scouring a fog-shrouded mountainside after a helicopter carrying President Ebrahim Raisi went missing in an "accident" in the northwestern part of the country. Some countries have offered assistance,

A helicopter carrying Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi was subject to a "hard landing" incident on Sunday as it was crossing mountain terrain in heavy fog in the East Azerbaijan province.Traveling with Raisi were Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian, the governor of Iran's East Azerbaijan province and other officials and bodyguards.

Turkish state media says drone found a heat signature in search for Iranian helicopter

Akinci UAV identifies source of heat suspected to be wreckage of helicopter carrying Iranian President Raisi and shares its coordinates with Iranian authorities, according to an Andoluagency post on X.

Rescue workers expected to reach site of crash within 30 minutes, according to state TV.

Russia offers to help Iran in search for helicopter

Russia is ready to extend help to Iran in connection with the crash of a helicopter carrying the country’s president, Ebrahim Raisi, foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Sunday.

"Russia is ready to extend all necessary help in the search for the missing helicopter and the investigation of the reasons for the incident," Zakharova wrote on the Telegram messaging app, adding that Russia was closely following the rescue efforts to locate the helicopter

"We sincerely hope that they are alive and that nothing is threatening their lives and health."

Russia and Iran have been developing political, trade and military ties, with Iranian authorities saying military cooperation with Russia is expanding day by day.

Turkey’s Erdogan offers Iran support in Raisi search

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday said he was "profoundly saddened" at news of the helicopter accident involving Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi, and offered "all necessary support" to the search.

"We are following the incident closely, are in contact and in coordination with the Iranian authorities, and we are ready to provide all necessary support," Erdogan posted on X, formerly Twitter.

Iranian search and rescue teams were scouring a fog-shrouded mountainside, as Iranian state media said "an accident happened to the helicopter" transporting Raisi, a 63-year-old ultraconservative.

The government’s emergency aid agency AFAD said Turkey had provided a helicopter equipped for night searches and sent 32 mountain rescue specialists to help Iran in the search.

E.U. activates mapping service to aid in Iran president helicopter search

The European Union on Sunday said it had activated its "rapid response mapping service" to help Iran search for a helicopter carrying President Ebrahim Raisi that went missing on a fog-shrouded mountainside.

"Upon Iranian request for assistance we are activating the E.U.’s CopernicusEMS rapid response mapping service in view of the helicopter accident reportedly carrying the President of Iran and its foreign minister" Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, E.U. Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarcic said on X.

Saudi, Gulf states offer Iran any help needed in Raisi helicopter search

Saudi Arabia on Sunday voiced "great concern" over the news that the helicopter carrying President Ebrahim Raisi had gone missing, and offered to help with the response.

"We affirm that the Kingdom stands by the sisterly Islamic Republic of Iran in these difficult circumstances and its readiness to provide any assistance that the Iranian agencies need," the foreign ministry of the Gulf kingdom, a longtime rival of Iran, said in a statement.

In a statement on X, formerly Twitter, Qatar expressed its "deep concern" over the incident and offered "to provide all forms of support in the search".

The United Arab Emirates said it was ready to "support search and rescue operations", and Kuwait declared it was standing "with the Islamic Republic of Iran in these difficult circumstances".

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