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Helicopter carrying Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi, foreign minister and others makes ‘hard landing’ near Azerbaijan border, rescue hindered by bad weather

There is no information on the status of President Ebrahim Raisi and others involved in the incident. But Reuters quoted an official saying that the lives of Raisi and Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian were "at risk following the helicopter crash".

A helicopter carrying Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi made a “hard landing” near Iran’s western border on Sunday, Iranian state TV reported. The incident occurred while Raisi was en route to Iran’s East Azerbaijan province, bordering Azerbaijan.

As per report by state run IRNA, the incident took place between Jofa and Varzaqan in the East Azerbaijan province, around 600 kilometers northwest of Iranian capital Tehran. Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian, the governor of Iran’s East Azerbaijan province and other officials and bodyguards were also travelling with the president. The Imam of Friday Prayer in Tabriz was also reportedly in the helicopter. They were heading toward Tabriz, one of the largest cities in Iran.

According to Iranian official media, the convoy consisted of three helicopters, two of which made a safe landing and one of which crashed. The incident took place after Ebrahim Raisi inaugurated a dam in Azerbaijan along with Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev earlier on Sunday. The dam has been built by the two countries on the Aras River.

The helicopter “had an accident in the general area of Varzeghan” in East Azerbaijan province, state news agency IRNA said. Iran’s Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi confirmed that one of the helicopters in the convoy carrying Raisi had a “hard landing due to weather conditions.”

Rescue teams have been dispatched to the site of the accident, but efforts of the rescue teams were hindered by difficult weather conditions and heavy fog. Iranian Red Crescent said they have deployed 14 separate teams for search and rescue. While the teams reached the general area, they were yet to reach the helicopter.

Air ambulances and drones have also been deployed for the operation.

There is no information on the status of President Ebrahim Raisi and others involved in the incident. But Reuters quoted an official saying that the lives of Raisi and Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian were “at risk following the helicopter crash”. “We are still hopeful but information coming from the crash site is very concerning,” said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Importantly, the official used the word ‘crash’, while the state media reports called it a ‘hard landing’.

Iran’s state TV suspended regular programs and aired visuals of the search teams, along with live footage of people offering prayers for the safety of Raisi and others.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staffhttps://www.opindia.com
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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