Helicopter carrying the president of Iran suffers a “forced landing”: state TV | News

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Iran’s Interior Minister says search operations are underway after the incident near Jolfa, in Iran’s East Azerbaijan province.

A helicopter carrying Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi suffered a “hard landing,” state television reported, as officials said search operations were underway.

Iranian state media said the incident occurred on Sunday near Jolfa in Iran’s East Azerbaijan province.

A day earlier, Raisi was in neighboring Azerbaijan to inaugurate a dam alongside President Ilham Aliyev.

State-linked media said three helicopters were in the Iranian president’s convoy and that the other two returned safely.

Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, East Azerbaijan Governor Malek Rahmati and Ayatollah Mohammad Ali Ale-Hashem, the Iranian supreme leader’s representative in the province, were on the same helicopter as Raisi, state media reported. .

Energy Minister Ali Akbar Mehrabian and Housing and Transport Minister Mehrdad Bazrpash were on the other helicopters that returned safely.

The people who were with the president inside the helicopter managed to make an emergency call, according to the semi-official Tasnim news agency.

Tasnim reported that the call raised hopes that the incident could end “without fatalities.”

It is still unclear exactly what caused the “hard landing” or whether any of the helicopter’s passengers were injured.

Azerbaijan’s Raisi (left) and Aliyev visit the Qiz-Qalasi Dam on the Azerbaijan-Iran border, May 19 (Iran’s Presidency/WANA/Handout via Reuters)

Rescue teams sent

Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi told state television that several rescue teams were trying to reach the scene of the incident, but it could take some time due to fog and poor weather conditions.

Vahidi confirmed that radio contact was established with the helicopter, but offered no further details and suggested that communication lines were cut.

The government news website IRNA said the president’s helicopter is believed to have crashed in the Dizmar Protected Area, a forested and mountainous area.

There is no confirmation on what type of helicopter was transporting the president and his team.

Iran operates a variety of helicopters, but decades of sanctions have made it difficult to purchase new aircraft or obtain spare parts.

Many of the military aircraft currently in service in Iran date from before the country’s 1979 revolution.

Reporting from the Iranian capital, Tehran, on Sunday, Al Jazeera’s Resul Serdar said that “the helicopters and planes used in Iran are quite outdated.”

“That’s why these types of accidents are quite frequent in Iran,” he explained.

Serdar added that it could take hours for rescue teams to reach the accident site.

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