Search and rescue efforts under way after helicopter carrying Iran's president crashes

A helicopter carrying Iran's president has crashed during bad weather, Iranian state media has said.

President Ebrahim Raisi was travelling across the far northwest of Iran following a visit to Azerbaijan.

Rescue teams and the army are trying to reach the scene but are being hampered by heavy fog in a mountainous area.

Contact has been made with a passenger and a crew member of the president's helicopter, an official told state TV. The unnamed official said contact has been made on several occasions.

Iran latest: Rescuers search for President Ebrahim Raisi after crash

The president was said to be travelling with foreign minister Hossein Amirabdollahian, the governor of East Azerbaijan province and other officials.

Earlier on Sunday, an Iranian official told Reuters news agency that the lives of the president and foreign minister are "at risk".

"We are still hopeful but information coming from the crash site is very concerning," said the official, speaking anonymously.

Interior minister Ahmed Vahidi said Mr Raisi was in a convoy of three aircraft but didn't explicitly confirm he was on the helicopter involved.

State media initially said the incident happened near Jolfa, about 375 miles (600km) from Tehran, but then put it further east near the village of Uzi.

Mr Raisi had been in Azerbaijan for the inauguration of a dam with the country's president, Ilham Aliyev.

"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," Mr Vahidi said on state TV.

"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."

Mr Vahidi added: "The region is a bit [rugged] and it's difficult to make contact. We are waiting for rescue teams to reach the landing site and give us more information."

A rescue helicopter tried to reach the site but couldn't land due to the fog, emergency services spokesman Babak Yektaparast told IRNA.

The army's chief of staff ordered all resources to be deployed and Iraq has also offered to help.

Many of Iran's military aircraft date back to before the 1979 revolution and international sanctions can make it hard to obtain parts.

State media showed images of people praying for the president in the holy city of Mashhad and other locations.

Mr Raisi, 63, a hardliner and former head of the judiciary, is considered the protege of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

There are suggestions he could one day replace the 85-year-old.

President Raisi was elected in 2021 in a vote that had the lowest turnout in the Islamic republic's history.

The president is sanctioned by the US over the mass execution of political prisoners at the end of the Iran-Iraq war in 1988.

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Mr Raisi's time in charge has included major protests over Mahsa Amini - the woman who died after she was arrested for allegedly not wearing her hijab properly.

Iran also took the unprecedented decision in April to launch a drone and missile attack on Israel.

Sky's Middle East correspondent Alistair Bunkall said the president is "not universally popular by any means" due to disquiet among some over his hardline stance.

He said he would have been "very involved" in the fragile situation in the wider region, where Iran-proxy groups in Lebanon and Yemen have been launching attacks related to the Gaza war.

"There is no suggestion at this stage, whether it's Israel, America or anybody else, [that] any foreign intervention was behind this," Bunkall added.