‘No signs of life’: Iranian president killed in helicopter crash

World News

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi has died in a helicopter crash along with several other passengers, Iranian news agencies have confirmed.
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Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi on June 3, 2022 In Tehran, Iran.

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Key Takeaways
  • Iranian news outlets on Sunday reported Raisi was in a helicopter that suffered a “hard landing” near the border of Azerbaijan, about 375 miles from the capital city of Tehran, according to the Associated Press.
  • Search and rescue officials were struggling to find the helicopter in the fog as of 12 p.m. ET (7:45 p.m. local time in Iran), seven hours after the crash occurred, The New York Times reported, and contact had been lost with some members of the search and rescue teams because of bad weather.
  • The head of Iran’s armed forces has been deployed to the area and members of Iran’s Supreme National Security Committee and other senior officials have traveled to Tabriz, the nearest major city, the Times reported.
  • No information has been made available on the president’s condition or the cause of the crash, though Iranian news agency Tasnim reported that some of the people aboard the helicopter were able to “communicate with Central Headquarters, raising hopes that the incident could have ended without casualties.”
  • The helicopter was one of three in a convoy, the other two of which arrived at their destination safely—those onboard the missing vehicle include Raisi, Minister of Foreign Affairs Hossein Amir Abdollahian and Governor of East Azerbaijan Malik Rahmati.
Surprising Fact

Iran’s military air fleet largely dates back to the 1970s, according to the AP, and international sanctions make it hard to obtain parts for maintenance.

Key Background

Raisi was elected as president of Iran in 2021 after a lengthy career in the judiciary, including serving as attorney general and chief justice, the role responsible for overseeing all laws in Iran. He has been nicknamed the “Butcher of Tehran” for his role in the execution of thousands of political prisoners in the 1980s, which has been called a “crime against humanity” by Human Rights Watch.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control sanctioned Raisi and his inner circle in 2019, accusing him of advancing Iran’s oppression of its citizens and contributing to decades of human rights violations. The sanctions accused Raisi of overseeing the execution of child prisoners in Iran and the imprisonment of at least eight prominent human rights lawyers in less than a year.

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