Location of Iranian president's crashed helicopter discovered close to Azerbaijan

Location of Iranian president's crashed helicopter discovered close to Azerbaijan
Raisi’s helicopter still lost to search teams due to poor weather / bne IntelliNews
By bne Tehran bureau May 19, 2024
The Commander of the IRGC in East Azerbaijan has announced that a signal from the helicopter of President Ebrahim Raisi and a crew member's mobile phone was received at the crash site a few minutes ago, ILNA reported on May 19.

Brigadier General Abbasgholi Zadeh, Commander of the IRGC in East Azerbaijan, stated: "A few minutes ago, a signal from the helicopter and a crew member's mobile phone was received at the crash site." He added: "We are currently en route to the targeted area with all military forces, and I hope we can bring good news to the people."

The massive search for the Bell 412 helicopter involving Red Crescent rescue teams, military personnel, and police is ongoing but is being hampered due to heavy fog in the region. Teams of men are currently on foot looking for the helicopter at the latest reports. Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian East Azerbaijan Governor Malek Rahmati, Ayatollah Mohammad Ali Ale-Hashem, a representative of the Iranian Supreme Leader to East Azerbaijan, were all on the short flight from the border of Azerbaijan where they had been on a dam opening with Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev.

The Commander said: "30% of local military forces are present in the area, and there is no capacity for more forces to be deployed."

Iran’s Interior Minister provided an update earlier on the search efforts to locate the President's helicopter, stating that visibility in the area is very limited. Unfortunately, rescue forces have not yet reached the targeted site.

Ahmad Vahidi, who immediately travelled to Tabriz following the helicopter incident involving President Ebrahim Raisi, reported on the search efforts after a meeting with the East Azerbaijan Crisis Management Committee late on May 19.

He said, "Following the incident with the President's helicopter, all forces were mobilised. All groups, including the IRGC, the army, law enforcement, the Red Crescent, local villagers, and volunteers, are actively and eagerly searching for the crash site."

The Interior Minister explained that the area is steep and forested, and heavy rain complicates the search and has asked for help from Europe, Turkey and other neighbouring states to find the president's location.

"The visibility range is minimal, and for this reason, rescue forces have not yet reached the targeted site."

He noted the extensive presence of rescue, volunteer, military, and Basij (volunteer men) forces in the area and expressed the crash site will be reached as soon as possible.

Vahidi thanked everyone for their spontaneous prayer gatherings and reminded the public that some information circulating on various networks lacks credibility and authority.

Mixed reports are coming out of Tehran of prayers being held in Valiasr Square city by those who support the system, while other cities have also held prayers.

Iran’s Cabinet held an emergency session on May 19 to deal with the aftermath of a helicopter crash.

Vice President Mohammad Mokhber chaired the session aimed at mobilising all potential and capacities of the government to find the helicopter of Raisi and his entourage in northern regions of Iran’s East Azerbaijan province.

Hossein Hatami, the MP for Kaleybar, has said there has been no contact with anyone aboard the Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi's helicopter, which is currently unreachable, local agencies reported late on May 19.

Hatami provided the latest update on the incident to Jamaran, stating: "There is a possibility of an accident or a hard landing. The area is forested, foggy, and covered in snowy heights, making it difficult to explore the region thoroughly”.

“There is no information about all the passengers on the helicopter, and no mobile signal has been received from them. No contact has been made with anyone on board, and they are unreachable, including the protection team.”