19 May, 2024

Iran President Helicopter crash latest -

The helicopter carrying Iran's president has been involved in a crash or heavy landing during a flight in foggy weather. 

There had been some the helicopter had been found, by some rescuers, which has since been denied by the local Red Crescent office. 

This news follows on from unconfirmed reports indicating that telephone contact may have been made with a passenger and a crew member of the downed helicopter.

President Ebrahim Raisi was travelling over far northwest of Iran following a visit to Azerbaijan in a convoy of three helicopters.  According to local news channels, the incident happened between Uzi and Jolfa, approximately 378 miles away from Tehran, although no wreckage has thus far been located or the helicopters sited. 

Interior minister Ahmed Vahidi said "The esteemed president and company were on their way back aboard some helicopters and one of the helicopters was forced to make a hard landing due to the bad weather and fog. - Various rescue teams are on their way to the region but because of the poor weather and fogginess it might take time for them to reach the helicopter."

A spokesperson for the emergency services told state media that a rescue helicopter had tried to reach the site but couldn't land due to the fog in the area. Local media are now also reporting the incident as a crash, leading some to speculate the helicopter was willfully brought down. 

President Raisi had been in Azerbaijan for the inauguration of a dam with the country's president, Ilham Aliyev. Following news of the incident, the President of Azerbaijan said he was 'seriously worried'  hearing about Ebrahim Raisi's helicopter crash. "Today, after meeting with the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran Ibrahim Raisi we were seriously worried by the news that the helicopter carrying the high delegation made an emergency landing in Iran.  - Our prayers to almighty God are with President Ibrahim Raisi and his accompanying delegation." 

He also said that his nation, Azerbaijan was ready to provide any necessary support to Iran.

Whilst there is no evidence of foul play being involved in the incident,  Raisi's hardline stance has not been informally popular both within Iran and outside, in the wider region as well as globally. He was one of the main architects of the massive drone strike Iran launched against Israel in retaliation for Israel's breach of international law by striking a diplomatic mission of Iran in Syria. 

Iraq has offered to help with the search and rescue mission, officials at the interior ministry have confirmed and the Red Crescent along with other emergency services stand ready to assist. 

The White House confirmed that U.S. President Joe Biden has been briefed on the current situation and the U.S. was "closely watching" reports of the helicopter crash.  There is no word yet on any U.S. airborne activity in the region nor any release of satellite data showing any activity before the incident.

Pakistan's prime minister took to social media to say he "Heard the distressing news from Iran regarding Hon. President Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi’s helicopter. Waiting with great anxiety for good news that all is well. Our prayers and best wishes are with Hon.President Raisi and the entire Iranian nation."

In what some are saying is a surprising move, the EU pledged EU Solidarity with Iran and Janez Lenarcic, a crisis management commissioner, said the EU had turned on its "rapid response mapping service in view of the helicopter accident." following a request for help from Iran. 

Turkish President Erdogan has said he was "deeply saddened" by news of the helicopter crash involving Ebrahim Raisi.  He confirmed the Turkish authorities were in full contact with the Iranian authorities and stood ready to provide any necessary support.  "I convey my best wishes to our neighbour, friend and brother Iranian people and government, and I hope to receive good news from Mr Raisi and his delegation as soon as possible," 

According to the Turkish Disaster Agency, the country is rapidly deploying a night vision search and rescue helicopter, 32 personnel and six vehicles to Iran to help with the search. A further 15 strong team had been put on stand-by, in case of their need later on.  

Russia's RIA news agency has reported that foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said "Russia is ready to extend all necessary help in the search for the missing helicopter and the investigation of the reasons for the incident," 

"The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia affirms that it stands by the Islamic Republic of Iran during these difficult circumstances and is prepared to provide any assistance the Iranian services need," the ministry said in a statement. It also said the Saudi government was following news reports regarding Raisi's helicopter with "great concern".

A spokesperson for Qatar issued the following statement: "We express the State of Qatar's deep concern regarding the Iranian president's helicopter experiencing a difficult landing incident. We affirm the State of Qatar's readiness to provide all forms of support in the search for the Iranian president's aircraft. We express the State of Qatar's wishes for the safety of the Iranian president, the foreign minister and their companions." 

More to follow.