Iranian President's Helicopter Missing After 'Hard Landing'

Iranian President’s Helicopter Missing After ‘Hard Landing’

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian were on board a helicopter that reportedly made a “hard landing” in northwest Iran early Thursday morning local time. The aircraft carrying the two leaders has gone missing amid adverse weather conditions, prompting a massive search and rescue operation.

According to Iranian state media, the helicopter went down in East Azerbaijan province due to heavy fog. Poor visibility has so far hampered efforts by rescue teams, drones and Iranian armed forces to locate the missing helicopter.

The chief of staff of Iran’s armed forces, Mohammad Bagheri, has ordered full mobilization of the army, Revolutionary Guards, and law enforcement to join the search. Iraqi authorities have also offered assistance to their neighboring country.

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“Armed forces also came to the rescue and there are three drone units in the area, but they cannot operate due to weather conditions,” stated Hamid Monjem, head of the Red Crescent relief workers in East Azerbaijan.

Iran’s government spokesman said Vice President Mohammad Mokhber was traveling to the city of Tabriz near the incident site to coordinate the response. An emergency cabinet meeting was also convened.

The United States is monitoring the situation closely, according to State Department and White House officials, who confirmed President Joe Biden has been briefed. Tensions remain high between the U.S. and Iran over the collapsed nuclear deal and Iranian proxy groups.

Details remain limited and sometimes contradictory around the “hard landing” and current status of President Raisi and his delegation. Iranian media reports the helicopter did not crash but landed hard due to the fog, though no visuals have emerged.

The incident underscores the risks of air travel in Iran’s mountainous terrain and the challenges facing search crews working to locate the senior leadership before any potential hostage situation arises.

As rescue efforts continue amid the poor weather, the safety of Iran’s president and his team remains the top priority for both Iranian forces and any potential international partners assisting the operation.

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