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IRAN: LIVE: Iran’s President Raisi, FM Amirabdollahian killed in helicopter crash

By Nils Adler and Zaheena Rasheed Published On 20 May 202420 May 2024

Courtesy of Aljazeera [website: https://www.aljazeera.com]

di Emanuele G. - lunedì 20 maggio 2024 - 503 letture

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has confirmed First Vice President Mohammad Mokhber as the country’s acting president after President Ebrahim Raisi’s death in a helicopter crash that also killed Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian. Several officials, including a provincial governor, were on board when the aircraft went down in northern Iran’s East Azerbaijan province. They all are believed to be dead.

31 UpdatesAuto updates

13m ago (09:50 GMT) Infographic Who was Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian?

Interactive_Amirabdollahian_Obit_Iran_helicopter_crash 23m ago (09:40 GMT) Lebanon declares 3 days of mourning

Lebanon’s caretaker Prime Minister Najib Makati has declared three days of mourning over the death of Raisi and others who were on board the helicopter.

“During the mourning period, flags will fly at half-mast at all public administrations, institutions and municipalities,” the NNA news agency reported. Advertisement 28m ago (09:35 GMT) Who died alongside in the helicopter crash?

Hossein Amirabdollahian, Iran’s foreign minister Malik Rahmati, governor of Iran’s East Azerbaijan Province Ayatollah Mohammad Ali Al-Hashem, representative of the Iranian supreme leader to East Azerbaijan Sardar Seyed Mehdi Mousavi, head of Raisi’s guard team Colonel Seyed Taher Mostafavi, the helicopter’s pilot Colonel Mohsen Daryanush, the helicopter’s pilot co-pilot Major Behrouz Ghadimi, flight technician

Read more here. Three men in flight coveralls looking at the camera From left: Technician Behrouz Ghadimi, pilot Seyed Taher Mostafavi, and co-pilot Mohsen Daryanush, the crew of the helicopter that had Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi on board and crashed in Iran’s East Azerbaijan province on May 19, 2024 [Handout via Al Jazeera] 33m ago (09:30 GMT) First official state funeral expected tomorrow

Resul Serdar Resul Serdar

Reporting from Tehran, Iran

The dead bodies are being transferred to the city of Tabriz where the president’s helicopter was heading towards before crashing.

Once the bodies arrive in Tabriz, there will be an autopsy.

We are expecting the first official state funeral to take place in Tabriz tomorrow. After that, the bodies are expected to be transferred to the country’s capital, Tehran, where state dignitaries and people will pay their respects.

Then, we are expecting the bodies to be transferred to the city of Mashhad for two reasons: first, it was the hometown of President Ebrahim Raisi who was born and raised there and his political career started there; and secondly, the city of Mashhad is the most important religious centre in Iran.

We are expecting the burial ceremony to take place also in Mashhad. 43m ago (09:20 GMT) Infographic Who was Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi?

Interactive_Raisi_Obit_Iran_helicopter_crash 53m ago (09:10 GMT) Analysis No clear frontrunner for presidency

Luciano Zaccara, a professor of Gulf politics at Qatar University,1 says there had been “no discussion” in Iran about who would run against Raisi in next year’s election as since 1981, all Iranian presidents have served two terms.

With the sudden, unexpected death of Raisi, Iran will now have “to start from scratch to see who is going to be the candidate”, Zaccara told Al Jazeera.

“We know that from the conservative camp, there we will be a couple of people that might be interested in running, but nobody has really support from the political establishment,” he said.

He noted that at the beginning of the Islamic Revolution, there were two occasions when the president had to be replaced. Abolhassan Banisadr was impeached in 1981, and Mohammad Ali Rajai was assassinated in the same year. But, unlike now, Zaccara said, other key political figures had been expected to take over. 1h ago (09:00 GMT) Putin extends condolences, calls Raisi a ‘true friend of Russia’

Russian President Vladimir Putin sent his condolences to Iran’s Khamenei, describing the deaths of the Iranian president and foreign minister as a “great tragedy,” according to the Kremlin.

The Russian leader also took to Telegram to pay tribute to Raisi.

“Seyed Ebrahim Raisi was an outstanding politician whose entire life was devoted to serving the Motherland,” Putin wrote. “As a true friend of Russia, he made an invaluable personal contribution to the development of good neighborly relations between our countries and made great efforts to bring them to the level of strategic partnership.” Advertisement 1h ago (08:50 GMT) Hezbollah mourns ‘great brother’ Raisi

The Lebanese armed group issued a statement offering its “deepest condolences” to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and the Iranian people.

“We have known His Eminence the martyr president closely for a long time, so he was a great brother to us, a strong support, and a steadfast defender of our causes and the causes of the nation, foremost among them being Jerusalem and Palestine, and a guardian of the resistance movements and their fighters in all the positions of responsibility he held,” the statement said. Sign up for Al Jazeera Weekly Newsletter The latest news from around the world. Timely. Accurate. Fair. Please check your email to confirm your subscription By signing up, you agree to our Privacy Policy protected by reCAPTCHA 1h ago (08:45 GMT) Breaking Ali Bagheri Kani appointed as Iran’s acting foreign minister

The cabinet of Iran has appointed Deputy Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri Kani as acting foreign minister following the death of Hossein Amirabdollahian.

He has served as deputy foreign minister since September 2021.

Kani was deputy secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council between 2007 and 2013.

1h ago (08:40 GMT) Who is First Vice President Mohammad Mokhber?

First Vice President Mohammad Mokhber is now expected to become interim president following Raisi’s death.

Born in 1955, Mokhber – like Raisi – is seen as being close to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who has the last say in all matters of state.

Shortly after taking office, Raisi appointed Mokhber as his first vice president in August 2021.

Before his appointment to the vice presidency, Mokhber served for 14 years as head of Iran’s Setad, a powerful economic conglomerate mostly focused on charitable causes.

In 2010, the European Union included Mokhber on a list of individuals and entities it was sanctioning for alleged involvement in “nuclear or ballistic missile activities”. Two years later, it removed him from the list.

A council that includes Mokhber, the speaker of parliament, and the head of the judiciary must now arrange an election for a new president within 50 days at the earliest. Mohammad Mokhber Iran’s First Vice President Mohammad Mokhber in Tehran on May 28, 2023 [Majid Asgaripour/WANA via Reuters] 1h ago (08:34 GMT) Breaking Iran’s vice president to assume interim duties: Khamenei

Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has assigned Vice President Mohammad Mokhber to assume interim duties after President Ebrahim Raisi’s death.

“In accordance with Article 131 of the constitution, Mokhber is in charge of leading the executive branch,” Khamenei said in a statement, adding that Mokhber will be required to work with the heads of legislative and judicial to prepare for presidential elections “within a maximum period of 50 days”. 1h ago (08:30 GMT) Infographic No signs of life at crash site

INTERACTIVE Iran president dies Raisi Amirabdollahian helicopter crash-1716183879 Advertisement 1h ago (08:20 GMT) Photos from the helicopter crash site A helicopter carrying Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi takes off, The helicopter carrying Raisi takes off near the Iran-Azerbaijan border on Sunday [Ali Hamed Haghdoust/IRNA/WANA via Reuters] A helicopter carrying Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi Screengrab from a video released by the Iranian Red Crescent on Monday shows the crash site of the helicopter carrying Raisi in Iran’s East Azerbaijan province [Handout/Iranian Red Crescent via AFP] A helicopter carrying Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi [Handout/Iranian Red Crescent via AFP] 1h ago (08:10 GMT) WATCH: Who was Hossein Amirabdollahian?

The top Iranian diplomat has helped shift Iran’s foreign policy from engagement with the West to improving relations with neighbours in the Middle East, especially Arab countries across the Gulf.

Al Jazeera’s Alex Baird looks back at his life in the video below:

Video Duration 03 minutes 10 seconds 03:10 Iran’s Foreign Minister Amirabdollahian dies alongside Raisi in a helicopter crash 2h ago (08:00 GMT) ‘We’ve had presidents that sat in their office mostly; Raisi was different’

Foad Izadi, an associate professor of world studies at the University of Tehran, has told Al Jazeera that Raisi’s death “in the line of duty” is a “shock to the nation”.

The fact that he was travelling at the time of his death was representative of his commitment to being a “hands-on” president, Izadi said.

He noted that in three years, Raisi had visited all Iranian provinces at least two times and some provinces nine times.

“We have had presidents in Iran that sat in their office mostly; President Raisi was different and I think that’s one reason that people are going to remember him,” he said. 2h ago (07:50 GMT) Malaysia’s Anwar ‘deeply saddened’ by Raisi’s death

Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim has extended his “heartfelt condolences” to the people of Iran following Raisi and Amriabdollahian’s deaths.

He said in a post on X: “I am deeply saddened by the tragic deaths of President Ebrahim Raisi, Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and several other officials of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

“I had the honour of meeting President Raisi on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly last November. He exemplified a deep commitment to the welfare of his people and the dignity of his nation, which represents a proud and rich civilisation rooted in the principles of Islam. His dedication to justice, peace, and the upliftment of the ummah was truly inspiring. We committed ourselves to bolstering Malaysia-Iran relations, working together for the betterment of our peoples and the Muslim world. Our pledge will be fulfilled.”

2h ago (07:40 GMT) EU extends ‘sincere condolences’

Charles Michel, the president of the European Council, said on X:

“The EU expresses its sincere condolences for the death of President Raisi and Foreign Minister Abdollahian, as well as other members of their delegation and crew in a helicopter accident. Our thoughts go to the families.” Advertisement 2h ago (07:30 GMT) WATCH: First images of crash site

The first images of the crash site in Iran’s East Azerbaijan province show the burned-out wreckage of part of the helicopter that was carrying Raisi and eight other passengers.

Watch the video below:

Video Duration 00 minutes 24 seconds 00:24 First image of crash site as Iran president confirmed dead 2h ago (07:15 GMT) Shrine in Qom flies black banner after deadly helicopter crash

A black banner has been flown on top of the dome of Fatima Masumeh Shrine in the holy city of Qom following the helicopter crash, according to Qom News.

Qom is considered the second holiest city in Iran next to Mashhad and is also the centre of Shia religious studies.

The shrine itself honours Fatima Masumeh, sister of Imam Reza and daughter of Imam Musa al-Kadhim, both important figures in Shia Islam.

According to Qom News, a black banner was also flown at the top of the Imam Reza Shrine in Mashhad.

2h ago (07:15 GMT) Houthi leader wishes Raisi’s family patience, solace

Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, the head of Yemen’s Houthi revolutionary committee, says on X:

“Our deepest condolences to the Iranian people, the Iranian leadership, and the families of President Raisi and the accompanying delegation on their reported martyrdom.

“We ask God to grant their families patience and solace. Verily we belong to God and to Him we shall return. The Iranian people will remain adhering to the loyal leaders of their people, by God’s will.”

2h ago (07:10 GMT) Iran’s foreign minister was a well-known political figure in Lebanon

Zeina Khodr Zeina Khodr

Reporting from Beirut, Lebanon

Iran is a country that enjoys a lot of influence and sway in Lebanon.

There is still no statement from the Lebanese government or Iran’s ally, Hezbollah.

Iran and Lebanon enjoy ties on the official level and on the unofficial level. The relationship has been described as brotherly and strong, but there is no doubt it is also because Hezbollah and its allies control political power in this country.

Raisi’s death is unlikely to change this relationship. Yes, he is an important figure in the establishment, but he is not the main decision-maker in Iran – that is, the supreme leader who dictates and sets foreign policy.

On that helicopter was also Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian, a very familiar face in Lebanon, who was instrumental in implementing that foreign policy.

He has visited this country numerous times in recent years, especially in recent months since Israel’s war on Gaza, as a way for Iran to project its influence and show its role in the conflict.

Iran is leading the so-called “axis of resistance”, which has opened fronts against Israel to help Hamas in Gaza.

He would hold meetings with Hezbollah officials or with Hamas officials. 3h ago (07:00 GMT) Qatar’s emir sends message of condolences to Iran

Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani has sent his “sincere condolences” to Iran following the death of President Raisi and Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabollahian.

In a statement posted on X, the Qatari emir wrote that he is asking for God’s “mercy and forgiveness” for all those who were killed in the helicopter crash.

Sheikh Tamim also wished “patience and solace” to the families of those who died.

“We belong to Allah and to Him we shall return,” he added. Advertisement 3h ago (06:50 GMT) Iraq’s prime minister offers ‘heartfelt condolences’

Mohammed Shia al-Sudani has expressed solidarity with the Iranian people following Raisi’s death.

He said in a statement:

“With profound sadness and deep sorrow, we received the tragic news of the passing of the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ibrahim Raisi, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hossein Amir Abdollahian, and their companions, due to the unfortunate plane crash incident in northern Iran.

“We extend our heartfelt condolences and sympathies to the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic, Ali Khamenei, and to the nation of Iran, its government and people. We express our solidarity with the brotherly Iranian people and the officials of the Islamic Republic during this painful tragedy.” 3h ago (06:45 GMT) Analysis No Mayday call from pilot indicates a ‘serious controllability issue’

Aviation analyst Kyle Bailey has told Al Jazeera the lack of communication from the helicopter pilot or another flight crew member left no doubt that there was a “serious controllability issue”.

He said that if a helicopter has a serious technical issue mid-flight, the pilot’s first task is to “keep the plane flying, and then communications would be second”.

Bailey added: “We basically didn’t see any communication … because the pilot was probably just so focused on landing the helicopter or keeping it in the sky.”

The analyst also explained: “It appears from the helicopter being in two parts that the tail rotor most likely was sliced off, and that would be a result of the main rotor blade impacting the tail.”

He said this would have been caused by aerodynamic forces created when the pilot was manoeuvring to land the helicopter or possibly because of a technical issue.

Another possibility, he said, is tail rotor failure.

“If we see that spiral motion where the helicopters kind of rotating 360 degrees, clockwise or counterclockwise, that could indicate that the tail rotor failed, and … would be out of control”.

Bailey said adverse weather conditions and mountainous terrain could also have contributed to the fatal crash. 3h ago (06:40 GMT) Iran’s supreme Leader pays tribute to Raisi

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has posted a tribute to President Ebrahim Raisi following his death in a helicopter crash.

In a post on X, the supreme leader posted a photo of him and Raisi with a brief message referring to Imam Reza, the eighth imam of Shia Islam and a revered figure in Iran.

Raisi’s remains are now being transported to the city of Tabriz.

It is still unclear when and where Raisi will be buried.

3h ago (06:35 GMT) Explainer What do we know about the crashed helicopter?

Here are some facts about the US-manufactured Bell 212 helicopter:

Bell Helicopter (now Bell Textron) developed the aircraft in the late 1960s as an upgrade of the original UH-1 Iroquois for the Canadian military.

The new design used two turboshaft engines instead of one, giving it greater carrying capacity.

According to US military training documents, the helicopter was introduced in 1971 and quickly adopted by both the United States and Canada.

The craft is designed to carry aerial firefighting gear and cargo and to mount weapons.

This particular helicopter had been reconfigured to carry 15 people, including a pilot.

Sanctions have made it difficult for Iran to obtain parts or new aircraft.

The most recent fatal crash of a Bell 212 was in September 2023, when a privately operated aircraft crashed off the coast of the United Arab Emirates, according to the Flight Safety Foundation, a non-profit focusing on aviation safety.

3h ago (06:25 GMT) Pakistan to observe day of mourning

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif says his country will observe a day of mourning and the flag will fly at half-mast as a mark of respect for Raisi and his companions.

In a post on X, Sharif called Raisi and Amirabdollahian “good friends of Pakistan” and extended his “deepest condolences and sympathies to the Iranian nation on this terrible loss”.

“The great Iranian nation will overcome this tragedy with customary courage,” he added.

Advertisement 3h ago (06:20 GMT) Where did the crash happen? A map of the site of a helicopter crash involving Iran’s President Raisi Approximate location of crash site [Al Jazeera] 3h ago (06:15 GMT) WATCH: Who was Ebrahim Raisi?

Raisi’s death in a helicopter crash brings to an end a life spent at the heart of the Iranian clerical establishment.

Resul Serdar looks back at his life.

Video Duration 04 minutes 06 seconds 04:06 Ebrahim Raisi, Iran’s president, dies in helicopter crash aged 63 3h ago (06:10 GMT) Here’s a quick recap

Let’s bring you up to speed with what happened over the last few hours:

Iran’s President Raisi has been confirmed dead after a helicopter carrying him and other officials crashed in a mountainous and forested area of the country in poor weather.

Vice President Mohammad Mokhber will assume powers after Raisi’s death.

According to the constitution, in case of the president’s death or incapacity, the first vice president takes over until an election is held within 50 days.

Also killed in the crash was Foreign Minister Amirabdollahian, an experienced diplomat who helped secure the recent rapprochement between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Tributes and condolences pour in from regional and international leaders.

Several countries in the Middle East have expressed support to Iran and offered help to locate the helicopter, which was missing for hours after the crash.

The search was hampered by severe fog and rain near the crash site, in the Dizmar forest, nestled between the cities of Varzaqan and Jolfa in Iran’s East Azerbaijan province.

Paul Beaver, an aviation expert and former helicopter pilot, said the cloud cover, fog, mist and low temperature must have contributed to the crash of the aircraft.

Video Duration 04 minutes 06 seconds 04:06 Ebrahim Raisi, Iran’s president, dies in helicopter crash aged 63 3h ago (06:06 GMT)

Welcome to our live coverage

Hello and thank you for joining us as we continue to cover all the developments surrounding the death of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and other officials in a helicopter crash.

Stay with the Al Jazeera Live team for all the latest news, reactions and analyses.

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