Search operation underway to find Iranian President's helicopter-VIDEO-UPDATED-1

Search operation underway to find Iranian President
# 19 May 2024 20:15 (UTC +04:00)

Iranian state media is reporting that a helicopter carrying President Ebrahim Raisi and other top officials suffered a "hard landing" Sunday, with no immediate word on casualties, APA reports citing IRNA.

The state-run IRNA media outlet reported that the aircraft carrying Raisi, Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian and other senior officials went down in a mountainous part of northwestern Iran as they returned from an event along Iran's border with Azerbaijan.

Two of the three helicopters on the trip reportedly reached their destination safely, but crews were still searching for the one carrying Raisi, according to state media.

Iran's Interior Minister, Ahmad Vahidi, reportedly confirmed the "hard landing" of the president's helicopter and said the search-and-rescue operation is underway.

"Various rescue groups are moving towards the site, but due to the fog and bad weather, it may take time to reach the area. The work is under control," Vahidi said.

"There have been contacts with [the president's] companions, but given that the area is mountainous and it is difficult to establish contacts, we hope that the rescue teams will reach the site of the incident sooner and give us more information," he added.

IRNA said 20 rescue teams, including drones and dogs, had been sent to the scene, and that the Iranian military had also deployed troops to assist in the rescue effort.

*** 17:12

Heavy fog has reduced visibility in the area where it is thought the aircraft may have landed or crashed, according to a local media outlet, APA reports.

A reporter with Fars news agency, who is out with the emergency search units, says locating the aircraft will be difficult given the conditions.

He says the visibility in the mountainous and wooded area is down to only about five meters.

The area is about fifty kilometres to the north of Tabriz, the capital of the Easter Azerbaijan province, near the town of Varzeqan.

***

Iranian media says rescue teams are on their way to the site after reports that a helicopter in the convoy of three carrying President Raisi had had a rough landing over East Azerbaijan, APA reports.

There are contradictory reports of what has happened, with no official confirmation of the incident as yet.

One semi-official Iranian news outlet, Tasnim, says that two of the helicopters reached their destination safely.

Tasnim says that the other helicopter was carrying not only Raisi on board but Iran's foreign minister, too.

The Iranian news reports say that there is fog in the area where the incident is reported to have happened.

***

A helicopter carrying Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi suffered a “hard landing” on Sunday, Iranian state television reported, without immediately elaborating, APA reports citing The Associated Press.

Raisi was traveling in Iran’s East Azerbaijan province. State TV said the incident happened near Jolfa, a city on the border with the nation of Azerbaijan, some 600 kilometers (375 miles) northwest of the Iranian capital, Tehran.

Rescuers were attempting to reach the site, state TV said, but had been hampered by poor weather condition in the area. There had been heavy rain reported with some wind.

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