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Iranian President Missing After Helicopter Crash in Mountainous Terrain

Daniel Kim Views  

Reuters/Yonhap

On the 19th (local time), Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi was reported missing following a helicopter crash in the mountainous region of northwestern Iran. The search operation is facing difficulties due to severe weather conditions.

According to Yonhap News, Iranian authorities have dispatched over 60 rescue teams and mobilized military and Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) for a large-scale search operation. However, the search is proving challenging due to nightfall, rugged mountain terrain, and harsh conditions such as blizzards and dense fog.

Early on the 20th, Iran’s state-owned PressTV reported that a high-ranking Iranian military official said the search operation had narrowed down to a radius of 2 kilometers (about 1.24 miles), but the weather in the search area had worsened. The official told PressTV, “The search area is gradually narrowing down.”

According to Iran’s state-owned IRNA news agency, over 60 rescue teams have been dispatched to the mountainous region of Dizmar near the central part of East Azerbaijan Province, where the accident occurred, along search dogs and drones. IRNA reported that special forces trained in mountain operations have also arrived at the search site.

The military, police, and Revolutionary Guards are also participating in the search, and several ambulances were seen lined up near the search area through local Iranian broadcasts.

Iranian local media and foreign press reported that the helicopter carrying Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi crashed in the mountainous region of northwestern Iran on the afternoon of the 19th. The status of the president is still unconfirmed.

The state-owned IRNA news agency reported that along with President Raisi, Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, Governor of East Azerbaijan Malik Rahmati, religious leader of Tabriz Ayatollah Mohammad Alhashemi, and bodyguards were also on board.

Iranian Armed Forces Chief of Staff Mohammad Bagheri has issued a mobilization order for all resources and troops for the search and rescue of the crashed helicopter and is currently requesting help from neighboring countries such as Turkiye and Russia.

Reuters/Yonhap

Early in the morning, Iran’s state-run television broadcasted images of the rescue team walking through the pitch-black mountains with flashlights and GPS equipment in the blizzard and steep mud, conducting a search operation.

The regional commander told state-run television, “We are thoroughly searching every point across the area where the accident occurred. The area is very cold, it’s raining and foggy. The rain is gradually turning into snow.”

An Iranian official who requested anonymity told Reuters that the rescue team is having difficulty approaching the crash site and said, “We’re still hopeful, but the information coming from the crash site is very concerning.”

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s Supreme Leader, prayed for the safety of President Raisi and the officials on the crashed helicopter, and emphasized that “the accident will not affect the operation of the government, so the Iranian people do not need to worry.”

The United States and Europe are on high alert regarding this accident.

President Joe Biden, who is visiting Georgia, was informed of the accident, the White House and the U.S. State Department said in a statement that they are closely watching the news of the helicopter crash involving President Raisi.

Charles Michel, the permanent chairman of the European Union (EU) Council, posted on social media X, “We are watching the news that a helicopter carrying the Iranian president and foreign minister made an emergency landing. We are closely monitoring the situation with EU member states and partners.”

President Raisi, a hard-line conservative cleric, was elected with 62% of the vote in the June 2021 election. He took office in August of the same year.

Two years after taking office, the Iranian government violently suppressed protesters during the Hijab Protests that began in 2022.

Furthermore, Iran has solidified its ultra-hardline image internationally by attacking Israel’s mainland for the first time in retaliation for the bombing of the Syrian consulate during the Gaza war.

Daniel Kim
content@viewusglobal.com

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