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A newspaper with a picture of the late Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi is seen in Tehran, Iran May 20, 2024. Majid Asgaripour/WANA (West Asia News Agency) via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY

Iran’s President Raisi declared dead in helicopter crash

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Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi was declared dead on Monday after rescue teams found his crashed helicopter in a fog-shrouded western mountain region, sparking mourning in the Islamic republic.

The charred wreckage of the helicopter, which crashed on Sunday, was found early on Monday after an overnight search in blizzard conditions.  Raisi, Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian, and six other passengers and crew were on board.
“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.
Raisi’s death was later confirmed in a statement on social media by Vice President Mohsen Mansouri and on state television.

State media reported that images from the site showed the U.S.-made Bell 212 helicopter slammed into a mountain peak, although there was no official word on the cause of the crash.

The helicopter went down in the Varzeqan region north of Tabriz, state news agency IRNA reported, as Raisi returned from an official visit to the border with Azerbaijan in Iran’s northwest.

Messages of condolences came from Iran’s regional neighbours including the leaders of India, Iraq, and Pakistan, as well as the European Union and Russia. Palestinian militant group Hamas, Lebanon’s Hezbollah, and Syria also sent condolences.

Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah group and the Houthi rebels in Yemen also issued statements praising Raisi.

Under the Iranian constitution, first vice president Mohammad Mokhber will replace Raisi until presidential elections are held within 50 days.

Iran’s Supreme LeaderAyatollah Ali Khamenei Mokhber’s interim appointment requires the approval of Khamenei, who has the final word in all state affairs.

(With input from wires)

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