Iran president helicopter crash: what we know about the death of Ebrahim Raisi

<span>The helicopter carrying Ebrahim Raisi takes off near the border with Azerbaijan on Sunday.</span><span>Photograph: Anadolu/Getty Images</span>
The helicopter carrying Ebrahim Raisi takes off near the border with Azerbaijan on Sunday.Photograph: Anadolu/Getty Images

Iran’s president along with his foreign minister have died in a helicopter crash, according to state media. Here is a summary of what we know so far:

The crash

  • The Iranian president, Ebrahim Raisi, and the foreign minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, have died in a helicopter crash in the province of East Azerbaijan as they headed towards the city of Tabriz. “The servant of Iranian nation, Ayatollah Ebrahim Raisi, has achieved the highest level of martyrdom whilst serving the people,” state television said.

  • The group were returning from Azerbaijan, where they had attended the inauguration of a dam alongside President Ilham Aliyev, when the helicopter crashed in a mountainous region amid poor weather conditions.

  • After an hours-long search hampered by fog and rain, rescuers found the burned-out wreckage of the helicopter on a mountainside. The head of the Iranian Red Crescent, Pir Hossein Kolivand, said as rescuers approached the wreckage there were “no signs of life”.

  • Iran has offered no cause for the crash nor suggested sabotage brought down the helicopter, which fell in mountainous terrain in a sudden, intense fog.

  • The president was travelling in a Bell 212 helicopter. Iran flies a variety of helicopters in the country, but international sanctions make it difficult to obtain parts for them. Its military air fleet also largely dates back to before the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

  • The helicopter did not have its signal system turned on or did not possess such a system, said the Turkish transport minister, Abdulkadir Uraloğlu. He told reporters that since Iran fell within Turkey’s area of responsibility for emergency response, authorities had checked for a signal from the helicopter upon hearing news that it had crashed.

  • A total of nine people were onboard the aircraft, according to Tasnim news agency, including the governor of East Azerbaijan, Malek Rahmati, and Ayatollah Mohammad Ali Ale-Hashem, the representative of the leader of the Islamic Revolution to East Azerbaijan province.

The aftermath

  • The first vice-president, Mohammad Mokhber, has been named as interim president, in line with the constitution, which says a new presidential election should be called within 50 days.

  • Five days of mourning have been declared by the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who holds ultimate power with a final say on foreign policy and Iran’s nuclear programme.

  • The election will be arranged by a council consisting of the first vice-president, the speaker of parliament and the head of the judiciary.


  • Countries including Russia, Turkey and India had expressed concern and offered assistance after reports that the helicopter carrying Raisi had gone missing. After his death was confirmed expressions of condolence also began to come in.

  • The Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, said on X that he was “shocked by his tragic demise” and that Raisi’s “contribution to strengthening India-Iran bilateral relationship would always be remembered.

  • Iran’s regional proxies offered their condolences. Hamas mourned Raisi as an “honourable supporter” of the Gaza-based group. Hezbollah praised him as “a strong supporter, and a staunch defender of our causes … and a protector of the resistance movements”. Mohammed Abdulsalam, a spokesperson for Yemen’s Houthi rebels, said on X that Raisi’s death was a loss “for the entire Islamic world and Palestine and Gaza”.

  • The US has yet to comment publicly.