Iranian president's fatal helicopter crash: What we know so far

A view of the wreckage of Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi's helicopter at the crash site on a mountain in Varzaghan area. Photo: WANA/Reuters

Tehran: Iran on Monday announced the deaths of President Ebrahim Raisi and other officials in a helicopter crash in the country's northwest. Here is what we know so far:
What happened?
Iranian authorities raised the alarm on Sunday afternoon when they lost contact with Raisi's helicopter as it flew through a fog-shrouded mountain area of the Jolfa region of East Azerbaijan province. Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi at first spoke of a "hard landing" when Raisi and other officials were returning from meeting with Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev on their common border to inaugurate a dam project. Only two of the three helicopters in his convoy landed in the city of Tabriz, setting off a massive search and rescue effort. As the sun rose on Monday, rescue crews said they had located the destroyed aircraft, a Bell 212 helicopter, with no survivors among the nine people on board.

Who was killed?
Alongside Raisi, Iranian foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and seven others, including the pilot, bodyguards and political and religious officials, died when the helicopter crashed. State television IRIB reported that the helicopter had "hit a mountain and disintegrated" on impact. Mehr news agency and others described the crash as an "accident".

A person walks past a banner with a picture of the late Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi on a street in Tehran, Iran May 20, 2024. Photo: Reuters via PTI.

Who will replace the officials?
Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei assigned vice president Mohammad Mokhber to assume interim duties, calling for presidential elections to be held within 50 days. Top nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri will serve as acting foreign minister, government spokesman Ali Bahadori Jahromi said on state television.

People lay flowers near the pictures of late Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, during a vigil to pay tribute to him and other victims who died in a helicopter crash, outside the Iranian embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia, May 20, 2024. Photo: Reuters via PTI.
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