Iran’s president, foreign minister die in helicopter crash

Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi. (Photograph: AFP)

Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi and his foreign minister have died in a helicopter crash, Reuters is reporting, after search teams located the wreckage in East Azerbaijan province Monday.

The accident happened on Sunday in mountainous terrain and icy weather.

“President Raisi, the foreign minister and all the passengers in the helicopter were killed in the crash,” a senior Iranian official told Reuters, asking not to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter.

Iran’s Mehr news agency confirmed the deaths, reporting that “all passengers of the helicopter carrying the Iranian president and foreign minister were martyred”.

BBC reports that the helicopter carrying Raisi and Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian was completely burned in the crash on Sunday.

Iran State TV also reported that images from the site showed the aircraft slammed into a mountain peak, although there was no official word on the cause of the crash.

Mr Raisi, 63, was said to be flying in a US-made Bell 212 helicopter. The helicopter – one of three travelling in a convoy – made a “hard landing” after it got into difficulties in heavy fog in the north of the country.

Mr Raisi was heading to the city of Tabriz, in the north west of Iran, after returning from an Iran-Azerbaijan border area, according to local media.

Rescue teams fought blizzards and difficult terrain through the night to reach the wreckage in the early hours of Monday.

“With the discovery of the crash site, no signs of life have been detected among the helicopter’s passengers,” the head of Iran’s Red Crescent, Pirhossein Kolivand, told state TV.

Earlier, the state TV had stopped all regular programming to show prayers being held for Raisi across the country.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who holds ultimate power with a final say on foreign policy and Iran’s nuclear programme, had earlier sought to reassure Iranians, saying there would be no disruption to state affairs.

“Eveyone should pray for the health of these people who are serving the Iranian nation,” Mr Khamenei wrote on X. “The nation doesn’t need to be worried or anxious as the administration of the country will not be disrupted at all.”


The 63-year-old Mr Raisi, a figure representing conservative and hardline factions in Iranian politics, was president for nearly three years, and “appeared on track to run for re-election next year,” according to Al Jazeera.

A former chief justice, Mr Raisi was touted as a potential successor to Ayatollah Khamenei, the 85-year-old supreme leader of Iran.

Mr Raisi was born in Mashhad in northeastern Iran, a religious hub for Shia Muslims. He underwent religious education and was trained at the seminary in Qom, studying under prominent scholars, including Mr Khamenei.

He became president in 2021 amid low voter turnout and wide disqualification of reformist and moderate candidates.

Like other top Iranian officials, his harshest rhetoric was reserved for Israel and the United States, followed by their Western allies.

Mr Raisi made many speeches since the start of the war in Gaza to condemn “genocide” and “massacres” committed by Israel against Palestinians, and called on the international community to intervene.