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Islamic Republic President, Foreign Minister Confirmed Dead in Helicopter Crash

The helicopter carrying Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi takes off at the Iranian border with Azerbaijan after President Raisi and his Azeri counterpart Ilham Aliyev inaugurated dam of Qiz Qalasi, or Castel of Girl in Azeri, Iran, Sunday, May 19, 2024. IRNA
The helicopter carrying Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi takes off at the Iranian border with Azerbaijan after President Raisi and his Azeri counterpart Ilham Aliyev inaugurated dam of Qiz Qalasi, or Castel of Girl in Azeri, Iran, Sunday, May 19, 2024. IRNA

State media in the Islamic Republic has now confirmed that President Ebrahim Raisi, Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and other officials have died as a result of a helicopter crash at around 1 p.m. local time in a mountainous region near the city of Varzaghanin in northwestern Iran.

The government aircraft was reported to have been traveling home from the inauguration of a joint dam project with neighboring Azerbaijan. On board were President Ebrahim Raisi, Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian, Governor of East Azerbaijan Malek Rahmati, and accompanying officials and security personnel.

In response to the incident, Tehran dispatched aerial and ground rescue units to locate the crash site.

Initial reports have suggested that bad weather, including heavy fog, may have played a role in the accident.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei publicly commented on the matter, announcing that there would be “no disruption in the country’s operation” and public affairs “will carry on smoothly and orderly.”

First Vice President Muhammad Mukhbar will assume his position until an election can be held within 50 days.

Raisi, a hardline religious cleric, came to global notoriety in the past few years for his conflicts with U.N. nuclear inspectors, support for anti-Israel terror groups in the region, and for his violent suppression of the pro-democracy uprising that took place after the 2022 death of 22-year-old Kurdish Iranian Mahsa Amini for allegedly wearing a hijab incorrectly.

Observers frequently named the 63-year-old, the second-most powerful person in Iran, as a likely successor to the regime’s supreme leader.

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