Iranian President Raisi is believed to be missing

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Written By Maya Cantina

TEHRAN. After an ‘accident’ involving the presidential helicopter Iranian head of state Ebrahim Raisi Iran has launched a search operation on board. According to state media and the government, Raisi was traveling in the northwest of the country on Sunday morning. Interior Minister Ahmed Wahidi said on state television that the search was difficult due to “unfavorable weather conditions” with fog.

He initially did not confirm that President Raisi was on board the helicopter, which was part of a three-helicopter convoy. The two remaining helicopters of the presidential delegation landed safely in the northwestern city of Tabriz. The accident is said to have occurred in the Dismar forest area near the city of Warsaghan.

The search for Raisi continues

The rescuers have not yet found any trace of the helicopter, the Iranian news agency Isna reported this afternoon. A video shows helpers in hilly terrain with thick fog. The approximately forty search teams are supported by drones and search dogs.

Also on board the missing helicopter were Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian, the governor of Iran’s East Azerbaijan province and other officials. On Sunday, Raisi and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev inaugurated a dam in East Azerbaijan province on the common border.

Iran calls for public prayers

Religious hardliners called on the population to pray for Raisi. Images of Muslims praying at one of Shia Islam’s holiest sites, the Imam Reza Shrine, were broadcast on state television. Meanwhile, an unnamed insider told British news agency Reuters: “We still have hope, but the information coming from the crash site is very worrying. Raisi’s life is in danger.”

The 63-year-old is considered a protege of Iran’s spiritual leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Raisi has been president of the Islamic Republic since the summer of 2021. Observers classify him as Khamenei’s successor. (sv)

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