Official Says Rescuers See Raisi Helicopter, 'No sign of life' at Crash Site

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi - The AP
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi - The AP
TT

Official Says Rescuers See Raisi Helicopter, 'No sign of life' at Crash Site

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi - The AP
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi - The AP

Iranian state television said Monday there is “no sign of life” seen at the crash site of a helicopter that was carrying President Ebrahim Raisi and others.
The site was across a steep valley and rescuers had yet to reach it, state media reported.

As the sun rose Monday, rescuers saw the helicopter from a distance of some 2 kilometers (1.25 miles), the head of the Iranian Red Crescent Society, Pir Hossein Kolivand, told state media, The AP reported.

He did not elaborate and the officials had been missing at that point by over 12 hours.

Raisi was traveling in Iran’s East Azerbaijan province. State TV said what it called a “hard landing” happened near Jolfa, a city on the border with the nation of Azerbaijan, some 600 kilometers (375 miles) northwest of the Iranian capital, Tehran. Later, state TV put it farther east near the village of Uzi, but details remained contradictory.

Traveling with Raisi were Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian, the governor of Iran’s East Azerbaijan province and other officials and bodyguards, the state-run IRNA news agency reported. One local government official used the word “crash,” but others referred to either a “hard landing” or an “incident.”

Neither IRNA nor state TV offered any information on Raisi’s condition in the hours afterward.

Early Monday morning, Turkish authorities released what they described as drone footage showing what appeared to be a fire in the wilderness that they “suspected to be wreckage of helicopter.” The coordinates listed in the footage put the fire some 20 kilometers (12 miles) south of the Azerbaijan-Iranian border on the side of a steep mountain.

In comments aired on state TV, Interior Minister Ahmad 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.”

IRNA called the area a “forest” and the region is known to be mountainous as well. State TV aired images of SUVs racing through a wooded area and said they were being hampered by poor weather conditions, including heavy rain and wind. Rescuers could be seen walking in the fog and mist.

A rescue helicopter tried to reach the area where authorities believe Raisi’s helicopter was, but it couldn’t land due to heavy mist, emergency services spokesman Babak Yektaparast told IRNA. Late in the evening, the Turkish defense ministry announced that it had sent an unmanned arial vehicle and was preparing to send a helicopter with night vision capabilities to join the search-and-rescue efforts.

Long after the sun set, Iranian government spokesman Ali Bahadori Jahromi acknowledged that “we are experiencing difficult and complicated conditions” in the search.

“It is the right of the people and the media to be aware of the latest news about the president’s helicopter accident, but considering the coordinates of the incident site and the weather conditions, there is ‘no’ new news whatsoever until now,” he wrote on the social platform X. “In these moments, patience, prayer and trust in relief groups are the way forward.”

Khamenei himself also urged the public to pray.

“We hope that God the Almighty returns the dear president and his colleagues in full health to the arms of the nation,” Khamenei said, drawing an “amen” from the worshipers he was addressing.

However, the supreme leader also stressed the business of Iran’s government would continue no matter what. Under the Iranian constitution, Iran’s vice first president takes over if the president dies with Khamenei’s assent, and a new presidential election would be called within 50 days. First Vice President Mohammad Mokhber already had begun receiving calls from officials and foreign governments in Raisi’s absence, state media reported.

Raisi, 63, a hard-liner who formerly led the country’s judiciary, is viewed as a protégé of Khamenei and some analysts have suggested he could replace the 85-year-old leader after Khamenei’s death or resignation.

Raisi had been on the border with Azerbaijan early Sunday to inaugurate a dam with Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev. The dam is the third one that the two nations built on the Aras River. The visit came despite chilly relations between the two nations, including over a gun attack on Azerbaijan’s Embassy in Tehran in 2023, and Azerbaijan’s diplomatic relations with Israel, which Iran’s Shiite theocracy views as its main enemy in the region.

Iran flies a variety of helicopters in the country, but international sanctions make it difficult to obtain parts for them. Its military air fleet also largely dates back to before the 1979 Islamic Revolution. IRNA published images it described as Raisi taking off in what resembled a Bell helicopter, with a blue-and-white paint scheme previously seen in published photographs.

 

 



One Person Found Dead, 2 Missing in Switzerland Floods

This aerial photograph shows a view of the hamlet of Sorte, south of Lostallo in the Moesa Region in the Swiss canton of Graubunden (Grisons) after violent downpours caused floods and landslides on June 23, 2024. (Photo by Piero CRUCIATTI / AFP)
This aerial photograph shows a view of the hamlet of Sorte, south of Lostallo in the Moesa Region in the Swiss canton of Graubunden (Grisons) after violent downpours caused floods and landslides on June 23, 2024. (Photo by Piero CRUCIATTI / AFP)
TT

One Person Found Dead, 2 Missing in Switzerland Floods

This aerial photograph shows a view of the hamlet of Sorte, south of Lostallo in the Moesa Region in the Swiss canton of Graubunden (Grisons) after violent downpours caused floods and landslides on June 23, 2024. (Photo by Piero CRUCIATTI / AFP)
This aerial photograph shows a view of the hamlet of Sorte, south of Lostallo in the Moesa Region in the Swiss canton of Graubunden (Grisons) after violent downpours caused floods and landslides on June 23, 2024. (Photo by Piero CRUCIATTI / AFP)

Rescuers in Switzerland have found the body of one of three people who had gone missing on Saturday after massive thunderstorms and rainfall in the southeast of the country caused a rockslide, Swiss authorities say. The other two are still missing.
One woman was pulled out alive from the rubble earlier on Saturday morning, The Associated Press reported.
“Today is a sad day,” said Ignazio Cassis, member of the Swiss Federal Council, who addressed reporters Sunday after traveling to the region to show solidarity with the victims on behalf of the Swiss Federal Government.
A team of 200 rescuers has been searching for the missing people since Saturday with excavators, specially-trained search dogs, drones and army helicopters. But the likelihood of finding them alive is low, William Kloter from the Swiss police, who is heading the rescue operations, told reporters Sunday.
Search operations had to be halted during the night due to heavy rain.
The rockslide hit a group of three houses in the municipality of Lostallo in the Alpine valley of Misox in Graubünden.
Swiss authorities also said that a segment of the Swiss motorway A13 leading towards Italy had been completely submerged and destroyed by flooding. The major transit route between the key San Bernardino Pass and Roveredo in Graubünden will likely remain closed for several months.