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BREAKING: Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi dies in helicopter crash

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi has died in a helicopter crash which occurred on Sunday, May 19, 2024.

The Islamic Republic News Agency reports announced President Raisi’s death early Monday morning.

Raisi’s helicopter and two more helicopters were en route to Tabriz City on Sunday after he inaugurated the Qiz Qalasi Dam at the border with the Azerbaijan Republic.

Foreign minister Hossein Amirabdollahian, East Azarbaijan Province’s Governor Malek Rahmati, and Mehdi Mousavi, the head of Mr Raisi’s guard team, were also on board the crashed aircraft. 

Mohammad Ali Al-e-Hashem, the Supreme Leader’s representative in the province, also accompanied them.

Local officials at the crash site confirmed the death of Raisi and his entourage. The Iranian government said it would soon release an official statement.

One of the three helicopters in a convoy that had on board Raisi crashed on Sunday.

The helicopter reportedly suffered a “hard landing” near Jolfa, a city bordering Azerbaijan, about 600km (375 miles) northwest of Tehran, the Iranian capital.

The State TV said, “Some unconfirmed reports say that the helicopter carrying President Raisi has had an accident in East Azerbaijan province.”

Disclosing that rescue efforts were underway, the news outlet added, “The harsh weather conditions and heavy fog have made it difficult for the rescue teams to reach the accident site.” 

The 63-year-old was in Azerbaijan with the country’s president, Ilham Aliyev, earlier in the day to inaugurate a dam, the third one both countries built on the Aras River.

Other officials on board included Iranian foreign minister Hossein Amirabdollahian and the governor of Iran’s East Azerbaijan province.

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