What do you know about the helicopter crash that killed Iranian President Raisi?

Beirut (AFP) – A helicopter crash claimed the life of the Iranian president The Foreign Minister has sent shockwaves throughout the region.

Iranian state media reported this on Monday President Ibrahim RaisiThe country’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian and others were found dead after an hours-long search in a foggy, mountainous area in the country’s northwest. State television did not give an immediate cause for the accident.

Here’s what we know so far.

Who was on the plane and where were they going?

On Sunday, the helicopter was carrying Amir Abdollahian, governor of Iran’s East Azerbaijan province, and other officials, according to the Islamic Republic of Iran News Agency.

Raisi was returning after traveling to the Iranian border with Azerbaijan to open a dam with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev when the accident occurred in the Dezmar Forest in East Azerbaijan Province.

The agency said the accident killed eight people, including three crew members aboard the Bell helicopter, which Iran purchased in the early 2000s.

How did the research process go?

Iranian officials said that the mountainous terrain, forests and dense fog hampered search and rescue operations, which continued throughout the night.

In this photo provided by Moj News Agency, rescue teams and people are seen near the site of the helicopter accident carrying Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in Farezgan, northwestern Iran, Sunday, May 19, 2024. (Azin Haghighi/Moj News Agency via AFP)

The head of the Iranian Red Crescent Society, Pir Hossein Koulivand, said on Sunday evening that 40 search teams were on the ground despite the “difficult weather conditions.” Due to bad weather conditions, “it was impossible to conduct aerial searches” with drones, Koulivand said, according to the IRNA news agency.

It was not until early Monday that officials announced that the helicopter had been found and all its passengers killed.

How was the crash site found?

Early Monday, Turkish authorities released what they described as drone footage showing what appeared to be a wildfire “suspected to be helicopter wreckage.” Coordinates included in the footage indicate that the fire was about 20 kilometers (12 miles) south of the Azerbaijan-Iran border on the side of a steep mountain.

Footage published by the Islamic Republic News Agency showed what the agency described as the crash site across a steep valley in a mountain range. “Here she is, we found her,” soldiers speaking the local Azeri language said. Shortly afterwards, state television said in animated text on the screen: “There is no sign of life from the people on board.”

How will Raisi’s death affect Iran?

My boss was seen as a Under the protection of the Supreme Leader of Iran Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and a potential successor to his position within the country’s Shiite theocracy.

Under the Iranian constitution, if a president dies, the country’s first vice president – in this case, Muhammad Mukhbar – He will become president. Khamenei publicly assured Iranians that there would be “no interruption in the country’s operations” as a result of the incident.

In this photo provided by the Azerbaijani presidential press office, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, left, shakes hands with his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev during their meeting at the opening ceremony of the Qiz Qalasi Dam, or Girl's Fortress in Azerbaijan, on the Azerbaijan border.  Iran and Azerbaijan Sunday, May 19, 2024. A helicopter carrying Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi was involved in an accident "Sharp decline" Iranian official media reported on Sunday, without immediately going into details.  (Azerbaijan Presidential Press Office via AP)

In this photo provided by the Azerbaijani presidential press office, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, left, shakes hands with his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev during their meeting at the opening ceremony of the Qiz Qalasi Dam, or Girl’s Fortress in Azerbaijan, on the Azerbaijan border. Iran and Azerbaijan, Sunday, May 19, 2024. (Azerbaijan Presidential Press Office via Associated Press)

What was the international reaction?

After news spread about the search operation, countries including Russia, Iraq and Qatar issued statements expressing concern about Raisi’s fate and offering to assist in the search.

Azerbaijani President Aliyev offered any necessary support. Relations between the two countries witnessed a cooling due to diplomatic relations between Azerbaijan and Israel, the arch regional enemy of Iran.

Saudi Arabia, traditionally a rival of Iran although the two countries He recently got closerShe said she stands by “Iran in these difficult circumstances.”

There was no immediate official reaction from Israel. Last month, following an Israeli raid on an Iranian consulate building in Damascus that killed two Iranian generals, Tehran Hundreds of missiles were launched And drones over Israel. Most of them were shot down, and tensions appear to have calmed.

The United States, which has its own history of tensions with Tehran, has not yet commented publicly on Raisi’s death.

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