Helicopter With Iranian President on Board Makes Rough Landing, Rescue Teams Rush to Spot

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TEHRAN — A helicopter carrying Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and several other senior leaders, including Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian, experienced an ‘incident’ in the country’s east Azerbaijan on Sunday following bad weather, and rescue teams were on their way to the area, reports said.

Raisi was returning from meeting his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev in the border area, where the two leaders inaugurated the Qiz Qalasi Dam, which is a joint project of both countries.

The helicopter – one of three travelling in a convoy – made a “hard landing” after it got into difficulties in heavy fog in northern Iran, as per Iranian media.

The Tasnim News Agency said that there were three helicopters in the convoy, two of which carrying ministers and officials had “arrived at their destination safely”.

It was still unclear what happened exactly to the third, with most Iranian media outlets reporting it made a “hard landing”.

“However, some of the president’s companions on this helicopter were able to communicate with Central Headquarters, raising hopes that the incident could have ended without casualties,” Tasnim said in a post on X.

Iranian state television also reported that the helicopter carrying the President suffered a “hard landing”.

Mehr News Agency initially reported that Raisi labelled reports of the accident as a “rumour” and said that the President and his convoy were travelling from Khodaafarin to Tabriz by land. However, it has now deleted this update.

Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi said rescuers were still struggling to reach the site of the accident due to the difficult weather conditions.

It will take “time to get to the location” of the crash site because of the “bad weather conditions and fog in the area”, he said on state television.

“Things are under control and rescue teams are doing their work. We hope it will be done as soon as possible,” Vahidi added.

Ahmad Alirezabeigi, the MP of Tabriz, said that emergency rescue workers have yet to find the location of the helicopter. The forested area is near the town of Varzeqan, and around 50 km north of Tabriz, the capital of the east Azerbaijan province.

Heavy rain and fog have made the rescue difficult, he added.

The head of Iran’s Red Crescent reported that one of the search and rescue teams had reached the site where Raisi’s helicopter had made a hard landing.

In case of any mishappening, Raisi, who has been President since 2021, could be succeeded by his First Vice President Mohammad Mokhber. – IANS

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