Iran’s president Ebrahim Raisi, 63, the ‘Butcher of Tehran’, confirmed dead as helicopter crashes into mountainside

20 May 2024, 05:42 | Updated: 20 May 2024, 08:33

  • Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi killed in a helicopter crash
  • Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and several others also killed
  • Helicopter crashed after getting in trouble in heavy fog
  • President was heading to Tabriz after a dam opening ceremony
  • Hardline cleric was close to Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
  • Election will take place in the next 50 days
Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi has been killed in a helicopter crash along with Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and several others
Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi has been killed in a helicopter crash along with Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and several others. Picture: Getty

By Flaminia Luck

Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi, foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and others have been found dead at the site of a helicopter crash, state media reports.

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The craft came down yesterday in a remote region in the country's north-west - with a search party working overnight to find the wreckage.

President Raisi, 63, was travelling with officials when the craft came down yesterday near Jolfa, a city on the Azerbaijani border.

Pictures released by Iranian state media showed his helicopter taking off just moments before the crash which has sent shockwaves through the country.

State media in Iran previously said there was "no sign of life" at the crash site.

Mr Raisi helped oversee the mass executions of thousands in 1988 and later led the country as it enriched uranium near weapons-grade levels and launched a major drone-and-missile attack on Israel.

Read more: Who is Ebrahim Raisi?: Iran's President nicknamed 'The Butcher of Tehran' feared dead after helicopter crash

Image shows helicopter carrying President Ebrahim Raisi taking off
Image shows helicopter carrying President Ebrahim Raisi taking off. Picture: Alamy

The crash comes as the Middle East remains unsettled by the Israel-Hamas war during which Mr Raisi, under Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, launched an unprecedented drone-and-missile attack on Israel last month.

Under Mr Raisi, Iran enriched uranium closer than ever to weapons-grade levels, further escalating tensions with the West as Tehran also supplied bomb-carrying drones to Russia for its war in Ukraine and armed militia groups across the region.

Read more: Read more: Suella Braverman warns Iranian regime 'funding and supporting' 'targeted attacks' on UK streets

Medical and rescue teams from Iranian town of Verzegan arrive at the accident site
Medical and rescue teams from Iranian town of Verzegan arrive at the accident site. Picture: Alamy
Medical and rescue teams from Iranian town of Verzegan arrive at accident site
Medical and rescue teams from Iranian town of Verzegan arrive at accident site. Picture: Alamy

State media initially said the incident happened near Jolfa, about 375 miles (600km) from Tehran, but then put it further east near the village of Uzi.

President Raisi had been in Azerbaijan for the inauguration of a dam with the country's president, Ilham Aliyev.

"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," Mr Vahidi said on state TV.

"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."

Mr Vahidi added: "The region is a bit [rugged] and it's difficult to make contact. We are waiting for rescue teams to reach the landing site and give us more information."

Read more: D-Day parachute jump scaled down due to lack of aircraft, as RAF bosses scramble to fill gaps

A rescue helicopter tried to reach the site but couldn't land due to the fog, emergency services spokesman Babak Yektaparast told IRNA.

The army's chief of staff ordered all resources to be deployed. Iraq also offered to help.

Who is Ebrahim Raisi? Iran's "feared dead" President

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