Iran’s president, foreign minister confirmed dead, state media says

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 21: Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi prepares delivers remarks at the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) at U.N. headquarters on September 21, 2022 in New York City. After two years of holding the session virtually or in a hybrid format, 157 heads of state and representatives of government are expected to attend the General Assembly in person. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — A helicopter carrying Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian crashed Sunday, Iran’s state media reported, according to The New York Times.

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First vice president named acting president

Update 4:49 a.m. EDT May 20: Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, offered his condolences on the deaths of the nine people believed to have been on the helicopter and announced that the country would observe five days of public mourning, according to the Times.

First Vice President Mohammad Mokhber will be acting president, per Iran’s Constitution. Mokhber must work to hold elections for a new president within 50 days, Khamenei said in a statement.

— Debbie Lord, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

State media confirms death of president, foreign minister

Update 12:37 a.m. EDT May 20: Iranian state media on Mondat confirmed the deaths of President Ebrahim Raisi, Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian and seven other people at the site of a helicopter crash in northwestern Iran, The Associated Press and CNN reported.

Raisi was 63.

— Bob D’Angelo, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

‘No sign of life’ at crash site, Iranian state TV says

Update 11:03 p.m. EDT May 19: The Iranian state news agency said early Monday that there was “no sign of life” detected at the crash site of a helicopter that was carrying President Ebrahim Raisi and others, The Associated Press reported.

Raisi, Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian and seven other people were on board the aircraft.

Pir-Hossein Kolivand, head of the Iranian Red Crescent, confirmed that there were no survivors, CNN reported, citing the Iranian state news agency, IRIB.

Next in the line to the presidency is First Vice President Mohammad Mokhber, CNN reported. He would be elevated to president if it is approved by Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, according to the cable news outlet.

— Bob D’Angelo, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

Crews reach site of helicopter crash

Update 10:54 p.m. EDT May 19: Rescuers on Monday morning reached the crash site of the helicopter carrying President Ebrahim Raisi, Iran’s semi-official Tasnim news agency reported, according to CNN.

The news outlet did not reveal the condition of the people who were on the aircraft, CNN reported.

— Bob D’Angelo, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

Officials locate crash site of helicopter

Update 10:39 p.m. EDT May 19: IRNA, Iran’s state news agency, said the crash site of the helicopter carrying Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi and the country’s foreign minister has been located, The Associated Press and CNN reported.

ISNA, a semi-official news outlet in Iran, on Monday said that rescuers are approaching the site. The outlet quoted Pir-Hossein Kolivand, head of the Iranian Red Crescent.

State media outlets did not give the exact location of the site.

— Bob D’Angelo, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

Original report: The helicopter has not yet been located but search-and-rescue workers are working to find it. The search is involving about 16 teams, state news agency IRNA reported, according to the Times.

Reports of any casualties or conditions of the president have not been released. The cause of the crash remains under investigation, the Times reported.

At the time of the crash, Raisi was heading to Iran’s East Azerbaijan province, according to The Associated Press. The crash happened somewhere near Jolfa which is near Azerbaijan and about 375 miles from the capital, Tehran.

“Given the complexities of the region, connection has been difficult, and we are hoping that the rescue teams reach the helicopter and can give us more information,” Ahmad Vahidi, Iran’s interior minister, told state television, according to the Times.

“The esteemed president and company were on their way back aboard some helicopters and one of the helicopters was forced to make a hard landing due to the bad weather and fog,” Vahidi said in comments aired on state TV, according to the AP. “Various rescue teams are on their way to the region but because of the poor weather and fogginess it might take time for them to reach the helicopter.”

“Some of the president’s companions on this helicopter were able to communicate with Central Headquarters, raising hopes that the incident could have ended without casualties,” Iran’s semi-official Tasnim news agency reported on X, formerly known as Twitter, according to CNN.

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