Updates: Iran President & Foreign Minister Helicopter Crash

UPDATES: Iran’s President & Foreign Minister Pass Away In Helicopter Crash

Iran’s president and foreign minister passed away alongside other government officials in a helicopter crash on Sunday (May 19).

More Details On The Incident

According to the Associated Press, an hours-long, foggy search led to the crash site in the mountainous northwestern area of Iran. At that point, President Ebrahim Raisi and Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian had reportedly been missing for about 12 hours.

Raisi is the second Iranian president to die in office. In 1981, a bomb blast killed President Mohammad Ali Rajai in the chaotic days after the country’s Islamic Revolution.

The state-run IRNA news agency reports that the incident killed all eight people aboard a Bell helicopter.  The governor of Iran’s East Azerbaijan province, a senior cleric from Tabriz, a Revolutionary Guard official, and three crew members also passed away.

What Happens Next In Iran After Fatal Helicopter Crash?

Iran’s supreme leader has appointed First Vice President Mohammad Mokhber as the country’s acting president after the crash that killed President Ebrahim Raisi. A new presidential election should be held within 50 days if the country’s constitution is followed.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei made the announcement in a condolence message he shared for Raisi’s death in the crash Sunday. Khamenei also announced five days of mourning in the message.

Acting President Mokhber appointed Ali Bagheri Kani, Iran’s nuclear negotiator, as Foreign Ministry caretaker, per Cabinet spokesman Ali Bahadori Jahromi.

In Tehran, Iran’s capital, businesses were open on Monday, and children attended school. However, there was a noticeable presence of both uniformed and plainclothes security forces downtown.

Meanwhile, the United States caught a stray over the helicopter crash from former Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. During an interview on Monday, he reportedly said:

“One of the main culprits of yesterday’s tragedy is the United States, which … embargoed the sale of aircraft and aviation parts to Iran and does not allow the people of Iran to enjoy good aviation facilities,” Zarif said. “These will be recorded in the list of U.S. crimes against the Iranian people.”

Note that the country’s State TV did not provide an immediate cause for the crash in Iran’s East Azerbaijan province.

Iran reportedly purchased the Bell helicopter in the early 2000s, a frequent model in the country. However, the aircraft industry in Iran faces a shortage of parts, in part because of Western sanctions, and often fly without safety checks.


Associated Press staff contributed to this report.

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