Ebrahim Raisi Dead as Iran Says There Is 'No Sign of Life at Crash Site' after Rescuers Reach Helicopter Crash Site

Early Monday morning, Turkish authorities released drone footage showing what appeared to be a fire in the wilderness, which they suspected to be the wreckage of the helicopter.

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Rescuers located a helicopter on Monday that had been carrying Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, the foreign minister, and other officials, which had crashed in the mountainous northwest of Iran the previous day, though "no signs of life were found," state media said.

The site was located across a steep valley, and rescuers had not yet reached it, state media reported. At sunrise on Monday, rescuers spotted the helicopter from roughly 1.25 miles away, according to Pir Hossein Kolivand, the head of the Iranian Red Crescent Society, as reported by state media. He did not provide further details, and the officials had been missing for over 12 hours by that time.

No Signs of Raisi and Others

Ebrahim Raisi
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi X

An Iranian official said that the situation did not look promising after search teams found the wreckage on Monday. Raisi is now feared dead but there has been no confirmation form Iran. "President Raisi's helicopter was completely burned in the crash ... unfortunately, all passengers are feared dead," the official added.

Throughout the night, rescue teams battled blizzards and difficult terrain to reach the wreckage in East Azerbaijan province, finally arriving in the early hours of Monday.

"The Red Crescent search and rescue teams have reached the crash site of the helicopter carrying the president," the Iranian Red Crescent stated, adding that the wreckage was found in the village of Tavil.

Early Monday morning, Turkish authorities released drone footage showing what appeared to be a fire in the wilderness, which they suspected to be the wreckage of the helicopter.

State TV reported that Iranian rescuers rushed to the site. The coordinates in the footage indicated that the fire was located about 12 miles south of the Azerbaijan-Iranian border on the side of a steep mountain.

State media reported that Russia, an ally, is sending a 50-man specialist mountain rescue unit to assist with the search. The Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations confirmed this in a Telegram post. According to Iran's Red Crescent, around 73 teams, along with detector dogs, are involved in the rescue efforts.

Search On But Nothing Looks Positive

Ebrahim Raisi, Iran president-elect
Iran president Ebrahim Raisi Wikimedia Commons

Rescuers struggled on Sunday night to locate Raisi after the helicopter he was traveling in crashed in bad weather. An Iranian official said that the lives of President Raisi and Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, among others, were "at risk."

The men were aboard one of three helicopters traveling in convoy over remote mountainous terrain cloaked in heavy fog when the aircraft went down.

According to Iranian media, those on board included Raisi, Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, the Governor of Eastern Azerbaijan province Malek Rahmati, Tabriz's Friday prayer Imam Mohammad Ali Alehashem, a pilot, copilot, crew chief, head of security, and another bodyguard.

Raisi was last seen staring out of the window of the aircraft, which was flying in Iran's East Azerbaijan province near Jolfa, around 375 miles northwest of Tehran, when it crashed.

The official said that rain and a lack of roads were hampering rescue attempts.

The mysterious crash immediately escalated tensions worldwide. Iran, a major sponsor of Hamas, which has been under relentless attack in Gaza since launching attacks on Israel on October 7, is also a weapons supplier to Russia in its war on Ukraine.

Some Moscow propagandists linked the president's disappearance to the attempted assassination of pro-Kremlin Slovakian leader Robert Fico last week.

The Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs thanked "numerous" nations and organizations for their help in the effort.