Helicopter Carrying Iranian President Crashes in Foggy, Mountainous Region

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — A helicopter carrying Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, along with the country’s foreign minister and other officials, reportedly crashed in the mountainous northwest region of Iran on Sunday, triggering a massive rescue operation amid fog and heavy mist. The public was urged to pray for the president and his entourage.

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The incident occurred near Jolfa, a city on the border with Azerbaijan, approximately 600 kilometers (375 miles) northwest of Tehran. State TV later indicated the crash site might be near the village of Uzi, but details remained unclear. Traveling with Raisi were Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian and the governor of East Azerbaijan province, among others.

No information was provided on Raisi’s condition, but state media showed images of people praying for his safety at Imam Reza Shrine in Mashhad and other locations. In Tehran, groups of men were seen visibly weeping and praying for his well-being.

Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi confirmed the helicopter made a hard landing due to poor weather. Rescue efforts were hampered by heavy rain and fog, with vehicles struggling through wooded areas. Turkey’s defense ministry offered assistance with an unmanned aerial vehicle and a helicopter equipped with night vision.

Raisi, 63, considered a potential successor to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was visiting the border area to inaugurate a dam with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev. His tenure has seen heightened tensions with Israel and significant internal unrest over economic issues and women’s rights.

The U.S. administration has been briefed on the incident, though details remain scarce. The situation continues to evolve as rescue operations proceed under challenging conditions.

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