Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi Killed in Helicopter Crash Alongside Foreign Minister

JABRAYAIL, AZERBAIJAN - MAY 19: (EDITOR’S NOTE: This Handout image was provided by a third-party organization and may not adhere to Getty Images’ editorial policy.) In this handout image supplied by the Office of the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi Meets with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev as they inaugurate the Qiz Qalasi Dam, constructed on the Aras River on the joint borders between Iran and Azerbaijan, after which his helicopter has reportedly crashed near the city of Jolfa, on the border with Azerbaijan on May 19, 2024 in Jabrayil, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Office of the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran via Getty Images)

Iran’s President, Ebrahim Raisi, has died in a helicopter crash in a mountainous area of north-western Iran, according to state media.

Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian also perished in the crash on Sunday. Initial reports suggested the helicopter made a rough landing in foggy conditions.

Raisi, 63, was a potential successor to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The helicopter went down in a remote area of north-western Iran while returning from Azerbaijan, where Raisi had been meeting President Ilham Aliyev.

On Monday, the Iranian Red Crescent confirmed that the bodies of Raisi and others had been recovered, ending the search operations. The organization’s chief stated on state television that the bodies were being transferred to Tabriz. Local media reported that Raisi was in the area to inaugurate the Qiz Qalasi and Khodaafarin dams. Before his death was officially confirmed, vigils were held in Tehran, with images showing people kneeling in prayer.

Raisi, a hard-line cleric closely aligned with Khamenei, was considered a potential successor to the 85-year-old Supreme Leader. His election as president in 2021 consolidated conservative control over the Islamic Republic. In a statement following his death, the Iranian government said it would continue to operate “without disruption.”

Several countries expressed condolences. Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif announced a national day of mourning, describing Raisi and Amir-Abdollahian as “good friends of Iran.” India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed deep sadness and shock on social media.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated his government was in full contact and coordination with Iranian authorities and ready to provide any necessary support. Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called Raisi and Amir-Abdollahian “true, reliable friends of our country.”

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