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Ebrahim Raisi's death: Israel denies role; Iran gets interim prez. Updates

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi has been declared dead in the helicopter crash, which took place on Sunday in the mountainous northwest of Iran. The crash site has been located near Tavil village

Ebrahim Raisi,  Raisi, Ebrahim

President Ebrahim Raisi attends a meeting with his Azeri counterpart Ilham Aliyev during the inauguration ceremony of dam of Qiz Qalasi, or Castel of Girl in Azeri, at the border of Iran and Azerbaijan, Sunday, May 19, 2024.(Photo: PTI)

Nisha Anand New Delhi
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and the country's Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollhian have died in the crash, which took place on Sunday as their helicopter was crossing mountain terrain in heavy fog, Reuters reported, citing an official.

The Iranian cabinet held an emergency meeting following the official announcement of Raisi's death and said that he made the ultimate sacrifice in serving his country. “We assure our loyal and appreciative and beloved nation that the path of service will continue with the tireless spirit of Ayatollah Raisi, the hero and the servant of the nation and the faithful friend of the leadership,” the Cabinet said in a statement carried by the state media.

Five days of mourning has been announced in Iran in the wake of the incident.

What happens as Raisi is confirmed to be dead?

Now that Raisi is confirmed to be dead in the crash, Iran's vice first president, Mohammad Mokhber, has taken over the charge as the interim president with Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's assent. The rules also mandate a new presidential election to be called within 50 days. "We will follow the path of President Raisi in fulfilling assigned duties without any interruption," Mokhber said.

Modi, world leaders extend condolences

Prime Minister Narendra Modi joined the world leaders in offering condolences to Raisi's family and the people of Iran. "Deeply saddened and shocked by the tragic demise of Dr. Seyed Ebrahim Raisi, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran. His contribution to strengthening India-Iran bilateral relationship will always be remembered. My heartfelt condolences to his family and the people of Iran. India stands with Iran in this time of sorrow," he said in a post o 'X'. Senior Opposition leader Mallikarjun Kharge also expressed similar sentiments.

Pakistan's Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Monday announced a day of mourning over Raisi's death. Russia, Iraq, Turkey were among the other nations to extend condolence messages.

The Iranian Embassy in New Delhi has lowered its flag to half-mast following the incident.

Updates on Ebrahim Raisi's helicopter crash:

1) The helicopter crashed on Sunday in the mountainous northwest of Iran near Tavil village. The site was located earlier today, with "no sign of life" detected at first, the Iranian state television said. The head of the Iranian Red Crescent Society, Pir Hossein Kolivand, said the helicopter was spotted about two kilometres after sunrise on Monday. Earlier footage released by the state media showed Raisi taking off in what resembled a Bell helicopter with a blue-and-white paint scheme.

Rescue efforts delayed due to bad weather

2) A frantic search and rescue operation was launched to locate the missing persons on the helicopter. However, the efforts were complicated by dense fog in the region. The state media said that the mud and the area's remote nature made it more difficult to reach the site.

State media releases footage of the crash site

3) Footage released by the state media showed what it described as the crash site. Another footage showed rescue teams making efforts to reach the crash site amid a dense layer of fog. Several ambulances were also seen stationed amid rain and adverse weather conditions.

How was Ebrahim Raisi's helicopter crash site located?

4) A footage from site was released by Turkish authorities, which they described as drone footage showing what appeared to be a fire in the forest. They said it was “suspected to be wreckage of a helicopter.” 

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei urges to pray for Raisi

5) Khamenei, earlier urged people to pray for Raisi's health. According to a statement shown on state TV, he added that there "won't be any disruption to the country's affairs" as a result of the incident. Raisi was seen to eventually succeed Khamenei.

6) The incident comes in the backdrop of the conflict in Gaza between Israel (backed by the United States) and Hamas, a militant organisation backed by Iran, which has resulted in large-scale destruction of Gaza and a global rift between the nations.

Israel says 'not involved' in death of Raisi

7) Reacting to the incident, Israel said that it was not involved in Raisi's death. "It wasn't us," said the official, who requested anonymity.

US monitoring situation of crash incident

8) According to NBC, The US said that it is closely monitoring the situation, and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer stated that intelligence agencies found no evidence of foul play.

Iran requests search equipment from Turkey, EU

9) To aid the rescue efforts, Iran requested a search and rescue helicopter with night vision capabilities from Turkey. Turkey's state disaster management agency, AFAD, also informed that 32 rescue personnel and six vehicles were dispatched to Iran.

10) Additionally, the European Union also activated its rapid response mapping service following a request for help from Iran.

Where was Raisi before the crash?

11)The incident took place following Raisi's visit to the border earlier on Sunday to inaugurate a dam with Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev.

(With inputs from agencies)

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First Published: May 20 2024 | 9:58 AM IST

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