A helicopter transporting Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi, along with other dignitaries, was reported to have experienced a crash during its landing in the Varzaqan region’s mountainous terrain amid adverse weather conditions, according to state media Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA). Rescue operations are in progress, with no immediate update on President Raisi’s condition available.

Accompanying President Raisi were Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian, East Azerbaijan’s Governor Malek Rahmati, and additional officials. The group was traveling in a fleet of three helicopters, two of which landed safely.

This incident occurred as President Raisi was concluding a visit to East Azerbaijan province, where he had inaugurated a dam project along with his Azeri counterpart, Ilham Aliev.

State television reported challenging weather conditions and dense fog, complicating the efforts of the rescue teams to access the crash site.

Pir Hossein Kolivand, the head of the Iranian Red Crescent Society (IRCS), indicated that 40 IRCS rapid response teams were deployed to the area. Kolivand highlighted the extreme weather and tough terrain but reassured that all possible measures, including the use of drones, were being employed to facilitate the rescue efforts, although aerial searches were hindered by the poor weather.

An anonymous Iranian official revealed to Reuters that the helicopter went down while navigating mountainous terrain, putting the lives of those on board at risk.

The Chief of Staff of Iran’s army has mobilized all available military and Revolutionary Guard resources for the rescue operation. Despite the onset of rain and challenging conditions, rescue teams have reached the crash site, continuing their efforts amid adverse weather.

State TV interrupted regular broadcasts to air nationwide prayers for President Raisi.

Internationally, Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, as well as officials from the United States and Azerbaijan, have expressed concern and extended their prayers and offers of assistance.

President Raisi has faced numerous challenges during his presidency, which began in June 2021. His administration has navigated through periods of domestic unrest and international tensions, particularly following the controversial death of Iranian Kurd Mahsa Amini in custody and subsequent widespread protests. A recent diplomatic breakthrough saw Iran and Saudi Arabia restoring relations, amidst ongoing regional conflicts.

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