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Iran’s president, foreign minister, 7 others killed in helicopter crash, declares 5 days of mourning

Iran’s President, Ebrahim Raisi, has died after a helicopter carrying him and other officials crashed in a mountainous and forested area of the country due to poor weather on Sunday, May 19.

The helicopter was carrying the Iranian president, as well as the country’s foreign minister Hossein Amirabdollahian and 7 other senior officials, when it crashed in the mountainous northwest rea of Iran.

Iran was thrown into uncertainty on Sunday as search and rescue teams scoured a fog-shrouded mountain area after the helicopter went missing.

Fears grew for the 63-year-old ultraconservative after contact was lost with the aircraft. The supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, had urged Iranians to “not worry” about the leadership of the Islamic republic, saying “there will be no disruption in the country’s work”.

“We hope that Almighty God will bring our dear president and his companions back in full health into the arms of the nation,” he said in a nationally televised address as Muslim faithful prayed for Raisi’s safe return.

More than 60 rescue teams using search dogs and drones were sent to the mountainous protected forest area of Dizmar near the town of Varzaghan. The crash site was later discovered and no survivor was found there.

The helicopter crashed weeks after Iran launched a drone-and-missile attack on Israel in response to a deadly strike on its diplomatic compound in Damascus.

Hardliner Raisi became president in a historically uncompetitive election in 2021. Previously as the chief justice, he oversaw a period of intensified repression of dissent in a nation convulsed by youth-led protests against clerical rule.

Raisi was the second-most powerful person in the Islamic Republic’s political structure after its Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khomeini. The Iranian Constitution mandates that, in the case of the president’s death, the first vice president assumes office with the approval of the Supreme Leader.

Meanwhile, Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei announced on Monday, May 20, five days of mourning for President Ebrahim Raisi who died in a helicopter crash.

“I announce five days of public mourning and offer my condolences to the dear people of Iran,” said Khamenei in an official statement a day after the death of Raisi and other officials in the helicopter crash in East Azerbaijan province.

President Raisi died on Monday after his helicopter crashed in a mountainous region of the country.

Rescue teams had been scouring the area since Sunday afternoon after the helicopter carrying Raisi had gone missing on its radar.

He was travelling with Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian who also died in the accident, and some body guards .

Early Monday morning, relief workers located the missing helicopter, and state TV revealed the president had died.

“The servant of Iranian nation, Ayatollah Ebrahim Raisi has achieved the highest level of martyrdom whilst serving the people,” state television said Monday, with Mehr news agency also saying he was dead.

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