HomeWorldMiddle EastHelicopter Carrying Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi Suffers 'Hard Landing'

Helicopter Carrying Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi Suffers ‘Hard Landing’

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Tehran, Iran – Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi’s helicopter made an emergency landing near the city of Jolfa in East Azerbaijan province on Sunday. 

The incident occurred approximately 600 kilometers (375 miles) northwest of Tehran, close to the border with the Republic of Azerbaijan. State television described the area as experiencing severe weather conditions at the time, including heavy rains, fog, and wind, which likely contributed to the “hard landing.”

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Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian was also aboard the helicopter. Initial reports from local government officials used the term “crash” to describe the incident, though these details remain unconfirmed as the officials have not yet reached the scene. 

State media has not provided information on whether President Raisi or any other passengers sustained injuries. Rescue teams are currently en route to the site but are facing difficulties due to the adverse weather.

President Raisi was in East Azerbaijan to inaugurate a dam alongside Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev. 

The dam, constructed on the Aras River, is the third collaborative project between Iran and Azerbaijan, despite recent tensions between the two nations. 

Relations have been strained since a gun attack on Azerbaijan’s Embassy in Tehran in 2023 and due to Azerbaijan’s diplomatic ties with Israel, a country viewed as a primary adversary by Iran’s Shiite theocracy.

The helicopter incident adds to the rising tensions in the Middle East. Both Iran and Israel have exchanged missile strikes recently, exacerbating the regional instability. Iran’s aging military air fleet, primarily dating back to before the 1979 Islamic Revolution, faces significant challenges in maintenance due to international sanctions that restrict access to necessary parts.

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Rescue operations are currently hindered by the challenging weather conditions in the region. Reports indicate that heavy rains and dense fog, coupled with wind, have significantly impacted visibility and accessibility. State TV emphasized that the poor weather likely played a crucial role in the helicopter’s hard landing.

The incident underscores the precarious nature of Iran’s aviation sector, particularly its military fleet, which has struggled under the weight of international sanctions. 

These restrictions have limited Iran’s ability to procure parts and maintain its fleet adequately, raising safety concerns. 

The helicopter involved in the incident was part of this aging fleet, which includes various models used across the country.

Despite the emergency landing, President Raisi’s visit to Azerbaijan highlights ongoing cooperation between the two countries in specific sectors, even amidst broader geopolitical tensions. 

The inauguration of the new dam on the Aras River was seen as a significant step in bilateral relations, focusing on mutual benefits in water resource management.

As rescue efforts continue and more information becomes available, the condition of President Raisi, Foreign Minister Amirabdollahian, and other passengers remains a priority. 

The Iranian government is expected to provide updates as the situation develops.

 

This article was created using automation and was thoroughly edited and fact-checked by one of our staff editorial members

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