Iran President's Helicopter Found, Situation "Not Good": Rescue Official

A helicopter, carrying President Raisi, Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, and other officials, lost contact yesterday.

Iran President's Helicopter Found, Situation 'Not Good': Rescue Official
New Delhi:

Iran's Red Crescent chief said today that President Ibrahim Raisi's helicopter has been found but the situation is 'not good'.

A helicopter, carrying President Raisi, Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, and other officials, lost contact approximately 30 minutes after they took off for the Iranian city Tabriz after President Raisi and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev inaugurated the Qiz Qalasi Dam on their shared border crashed. 

This sparked immediate concerns and a massive search and rescue operation.

"The helicopter has been found. Now, we are moving toward the helicopter," said Red Crescent chief Pirhossein Koolivand, adding "the situation is not good", as quoted by news agency AFP. 

The Turkish state-run news agency Anadolu shared footage showing the drone identifying a heat source believed to be the helicopter's wreckage and sharing its coordinates with Iranian authorities.

"The helicopter has been found. We are now moving toward it," Koolivand stated. "We can see the helicopter. The situation is dire."

Iranian media, including the Fars news agency, released drone images that appeared to show the helicopter wreckage. Earlier on Monday, state television announced that a Turkish drone had likely identified "the coordinates of the accident" and notified Iranian rescue teams.

On Sunday afternoon, reports indicated that "an accident happened to the helicopter carrying the president" in the Jolfa region of East Azerbaijan province. The Red Crescent noted that 73 rescue teams were conducting the search in "difficult conditions" in a mountainous area with dense fog and rain.

Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi mentioned that the helicopter had "made a hard landing" due to poor weather.

He advised the public to get their information "only from state television" and to disregard foreign media considered hostile by Iran.

According to Tasnim news agency, Raisi's convoy included three helicopters, with the other two having "reached their destination safely."

Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei reassured Iranians not to worry about the country's leadership, stating, "there will be no disruption in the country's work." 
"We hope that Almighty God will return our dear president and his companions safely to the nation," he said in a televised address as people prayed for Raisi's safe return.

International expressions of concern and offers of assistance came from Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Russia, Turkey, and the European Union, which activated its rapid response mapping service to aid the search effort.

Iran's foreign ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani thanked "governments and international organizations for their sympathy and offers of help in the search and rescue operations."

Following the incident, Vice President Mohammad Mokhber led an emergency cabinet meeting, as reported by IRNA news agency.

Rescue teams, equipped with search dogs and drones, were dispatched to the mountainous Dizmar protected forest area near Varzaghan, according to IRNA.

Authorities reported that the Army, Revolutionary Guard, and police joined the search, with TV stations broadcasting images of Red Crescent teams ascending a misty hill and rows of emergency response vehicles. Raisi had been visiting the northwestern province to inaugurate a dam project alongside Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev, near their shared border.