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Chopper flying Iran’s president suffers hard landing – state TV

Sunday, May 19th, 2024 17:21 | By
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi.
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi. PHOTO/AP

A helicopter carrying Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi suffered a hard landing on Sunday, May 19, 2024, Iranian state media reported, without immediately elaborating.

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

Traveling with Raisi were Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian, the governor of Iran’s East Azerbaijan province and other officials, the state-run IRNA news agency reported. One local government official used the word “crash” to describe the incident, but he acknowledged to an Iranian newspaper that he had yet to reach the site himself.

Neither IRNA nor state TV offered any information on Raisi’s condition.

Rescuers were attempting to reach the site, state TV said, but had been hampered by poor weather conditions. There had been heavy rain and fog reported with some wind. IRNA called the area a “forest.”

Raisi had been in Azerbaijan early Sunday to inaugurate a dam with Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev. The dam is the third one that the two nations built on the Aras River. The visit came despite chilly relations between the two nations, including over a gun attack on Azerbaijan’s Embassy in Tehran in 2023, and Azerbaijan’s diplomatic relations with Israel, which Iran’s Shiite theocracy views as its main enemy in the region.

Iran flies a variety of helicopters in the country, but international sanctions make it difficult to obtain parts for them. Its military air fleet also largely dates back to before the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Raisi, 63, is a hard-liner who formerly led the country’s judiciary. He is viewed as a protégé of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and some analysts have suggested he could replace the 85-year-old leader after his death or resignation from the role.

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