Iranian President Raisi is confirmed dead after helicopter crash, state agencies say

Iranian media has confirmed the death of Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi, aged 63, and Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian following a helicopter crash in the country’s mountainous province of East Azerbaijan.

Iranian state media Press TV and semi-official Tasnim and Mehr news agencies reported all those on board were killed.

Reuters also reported the president’s death, citing a senior official.

“President Raisi, the foreign minister and all the passengers in the helicopter were killed in the crash,” the official told Reuters, asking not to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter.

The head of Iran’s Red Crescent, Pir-Hossein Kolivand, said earlier Monday there were no signs of life of those traveling on board the helicopter, Iranian state news IRIB reported.

The helicopter carrying nine people ran into trouble in heavy fog while returning from a trip to the Iran-Azerbaijan border, Iranian officials said Sunday.

The crash prompted an hours-long search-and-rescue operation with assistance from the European Union and Turkey, among others, but emergency crews were hampered by the fog and plummeting temperatures.

Drone footage of the wreckage taken by the Red Crescent and carried on state media FARS News Agency showed the crash site on a steep, wooded hillside, with little remaining of the helicopter beyond a blue and white tail.

The crash comes at an especially fraught moment in the Middle East, with war raging in Gaza and weeks after Iran launched a drone-and-missile attack on Israel in response to a deadly strike on its diplomatic compound in Damascus.

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