Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi Dead At 63 After Helicopter Crash

The president had widely been considered a potential successor to Iran's supreme leader.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi died Sunday in a helicopter accident after the craft crashed in the mountains, the country’s state-run news agency said early Monday morning. He was 63.

The country’s foreign minister, Hossein Amirabdollahian, a provincial governor and other officials were also on board during the crash and are presumed dead.

The news shocked Iran and the world as officials said a massive search and rescue operation was underway. Raisi had been travelling with an entourage to the country’s border with Azerbaijan, where he jointly inaugurated a new dam with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev.

The helicopter crashed near the border around 1pm local time, and officials said earlier there was bad weather and heavy fog in the area. An official cause of the accident has not yet been determined. Rescue teams had searched through dense forest for more than 12 hours, at times calling off the search due to the fierce weather.

Raisi was one of nine people on the helicopter when it crashed on Sunday, state-run media said. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi, File)
Raisi was one of nine people on the helicopter when it crashed on Sunday, state-run media said. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi, File)
via Associated Press

Iran’s first vice president, Mohammad Mokhber, is expected to assume the presidency. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the country’s operation “will carry on smoothly and orderly” during the crisis.

“There will be no disruption in the country’s operation,” the supreme leader said in an address shortly after the crash was reported.

Raisi had widely been seen as a potential successor to the ayatollah. He previously led the country’s judiciary and was known as a hard-line leader. Under his tenure, Iran began enriching uranium at near-weapon-grade levels, and the country has supported Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine. Iran has also seen years of large-scale protests against the government and ruling theocracy.

Tensions between Israel and Iran have also flared in recent months amid the ongoing conflict with Hamas. Iran launched its first direct attack on Israel last month in retaliation for the killing of an Iranian military leader, sending 300 drones and missiles towards the country, most of which were shot down.

New elections must be organised within 50 days, although those plans could be complicated with the ongoing war.


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