Iranian President’s Helicopter Located, Military Deployed To Tehran’s Streets: State Media

Iranian President’s Helicopter Located, Military Deployed To Tehran’s Streets: State Media

Update(1420ET): We are getting closer to learning the fate of Iran’s President Raisi and his foreign minister and other officials aboard the helicopter which went down hours ago:

Iran’s president Raisi’s crashed helicopter has been found by search teams – State TV — Reuters
Iranian official tells State TV: Contacts have been made with one of the passengers and one of the crew members of the president’s helicopter on several occasions — Reuters

The Red Crescent organization is denying that the crash site has been found, amid contradictory and early reporting. So far Iranian officials are signaling that the president is alive, but the situation remains uncertain and fluid, following widespread speculation that he could be deceased. 

Rescue teams arrived at a radius of 2 kilometers from the site of the Iranian president’s helicopter accident. #OOTT #Iran https://t.co/rw1MtOMjaS

— Amena Bakr (@Amena__Bakr) May 19, 2024

Iranian officials are seeking to assure the nation and the world that continuity of decision-making and government is stable and assured, amid reports of a heavy military presence on the streets of the capital Tehran.

A Significant Deployment of Iranian Security and Military Personnel has been noted across the Capital of Tehran, with Members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) claimed to be taking up Positions near several Government Buildings. pic.twitter.com/xP0YNxWJkk

— OSINTdefender (@sentdefender) May 19, 2024

“The Iranian president’s helicopter has been found” and contact has been made with the crew and “one of the passengers on board”. At this point it is night time, amid bad weather…

The Iranian president’s helicopter has been found, state media has reported.

It said Ebrahim Raisi’s chopper was discovered by search and rescue teams. #Iran

— Sanam Jamali🇵🇰 (@sana_J2) May 19, 2024

* * *

Update(1315ET): Several hours into a massive search and rescue operation and things are not looking good as Iranian officials have been issuing ‘thoughts and prayers’ statements amid reports that severe fog and bad weather have prevented a proper aerial search for the downed helicopter of President Raisi and those with him. Deep uncertainty looms as Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, was reported as holding an emergency meeting with the National Security Council in Tehran (follow-up reports from state sources have downplayed or contracted this, however). The Iranian population is on edge as speculation grows that the president is feared dead:

“Nobody knows what exactly has happened and how the president and other local officials, because the situation is quite complicated,” he told Al Jazeera.

“As time goes on, hopes are decreasing because the conditions are getting much worse and it’s getting darker,” Aslani, a senior research fellow at the Center for Middle East Strategic Studies, noted.

“What is being felt here in Tehran [Iran’s capital] is mostly that feeling of uncertainty.”

The first official statement of Iran’s Supreme Leader:

We hope Almighty God will return the respected, esteemed President and his entourage to the arms of the nation.

— Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) May 19, 2024

At this moment, the president and his foreign minister, along with other officials are officially missing in a mountainous, forested area near the Iran-Azerbaijan border. Iran has mobilized the armed forces, including the IRGC, amid unconfirmed reports that even some of the search and rescue units are also possibly missing…

Iran’s Khamenei reassures Iranians that country’s management will not be affected by the incident – IRNA — Reuters

Three search and rescue members searching for Raisi’s helicopter are now also missing, sources say. https://t.co/O0luwyXq0T

— The Intel Crab (@IntelCrab) May 19, 2024

Initial footage from the far northern border region with Azerbaijan shows fog so thick that it’s hard to see just dozens of meters ahead.

One independent regional monitor has said: “This is hardly a surprise. First responders and rescue crews are being dispatched en-masse without proper briefing/delegation of command.”

⚡️Searches continue for the helicopter carrying the Iranian president. pic.twitter.com/S3RJeZTE83

— War Monitor (@WarMonitors) May 19, 2024

More footage showing a difficult terrain and weather situation. Visibility at a distance is near zero…


— The_Real_Fly (@The_Real_Fly) May 19, 2024

Speculation that Raisi could be dead has begun to hit foreign media, including in Israel:

Iran official: Lives of president, FM ‘at risk’ after crash landing in wooded area

There has also been speculation of possible foreign interference as the search and rescue extends into hours, involving a massive military and security response, with drones and other deployed assets over the region…

If Raisi is confirmed dead and foul play was found to be involved (a strong possibility given the geopolitical context), this has the potential to turn into an archduke Ferdinand of the Middle East scenario, especially given Raisi was rumored to be Khameini’s successor. https://t.co/RIgNm0sYER

— Arnaud Bertrand (@RnaudBertrand) May 19, 2024


“Today, after a friendly meeting with the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ebrahim Raisi, the news of the emergency landing of the helicopter carrying the Iranian high delegation caused great concern. Our prayers to Almighty God are with President Ebrahim Raisi and his accompanying delegation. As a neighbor, friend and brother country, the Republic of Azerbaijan is ready to provide all kinds of support.”

The official Instagram of the Iranian president is calling on all citizens to pray for his safety.


The presence of 3 ministers at the accident site for the president’s helicopter

The Ministers of Oil, Roads, Urban Development, and Energy are now present at the accident site for the President’s helicopter, and the Minister of… pic.twitter.com/xLrtHl55h5

— Sulaiman Ahmed (@ShaykhSulaiman) May 19, 2024

State media also appears to be fearing the worst, airing images like the following showing Raisi on a prior religious pilgrimage:

Iranian TV now airs “emotional” footage of President Raisi.

The weather conditions at the crash site are so bad that 3 of Iranian rescuers are also missing now. pic.twitter.com/idOcneh0YE

— Middle East Observer (@byz_observer) May 19, 2024

President Biden has been briefed, the White House said in a statement:

US President Joe Biden was briefed on the helicopter crash involving Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, according to the White House.

Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, accompanying Biden aboard Air Force One on Sunday, offered no other details.

* * *

There are breaking reports that Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi has been in a helicopter crash in a remote northern area of the country and that rescuers are trying to reach him and his crew. 

State media is currently calling it a “hard landing” – suggesting that the president is alive and well, however no other details on the precise nature of the helicopter incident have been revealed. According to the NYT, 16 rescue teams have been dispatched to locate the helicopter, however inclement weather are hampering the effort, according to the reports. The teams have failed to locate the crash after nearly five hours. According to the latest via Al Jazeera citing state media:

Adverse weather conditions, including heavy fog, are hampering rescue efforts and the helicopter is still missing.
Iran’s Fars News Agency calls on Iranians to pray for President Raisi.

What is known is that Raisi’s helicopter went down while in the country’s East Azerbaijan province and that it happened near the border city of Jolfa, and up to three helicopters total made up the air convoy at the time.

“Given the complexities of the region, connection has been difficult, and we are hoping that the rescue teams reach the helicopter and can give us more information,” said Iran’s interior minister, Ahmad Vahidi on state television.

State-run IRNA news agency indicated that among the officials aboard the aircraft included Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian.

The Associated Press has quoted at least one Iranian official to say it was a “crash” and that there’s an urgent rescue mission currently underway in a forested area:

One local government official used the word “crash” to describe the incident, but he acknowledged to an Iranian newspaper that he had yet to reach the site himself.

Rescuers were attempting to reach the site, state TV said, but had been hampered by poor weather conditions. There had been heavy rain and fog reported with some wind. IRNA called the area a “forest.”

It appears Raisi was traveling in connection with a trip to Azerbaijan earlier in the day, where he had overseen the inauguration of a dam with Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev this morning. Iran’s semi-official Tasnim news agency has stated on X Sunday:

“Some of the president’s companions on this helicopter were able to communicate with Central Headquarters, raising hopes that the incident could have ended without casualties.”

Iran President Raisi was flying from a meeting with Ilham Aliyev in Tehran when the incident occurred.

Video footage shows the head of the Islamic Republic on board shortly before the helicopter made a hard landing in mountainous terrain due to foggy conditions. pic.twitter.com/ofWEP0cL2D

— Russian Market (@runews) May 19, 2024

Thus far initial reports indicate that Raisi has survived the incident, but again the ‘hard landing’ appears to be significant – and possibly far worse – than what state media is letting on.

The fact that a rescue team has yet to even reach the location of the downed helicopter means this could be a potential casualty situation involving top officials.

Iranian Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi confirms: Rescue teams have not yet arrived at the scene of the helicopter accident due to bad weather and fog.

President Raisi’s helicopter made a hard landing. pic.twitter.com/WRelcekVNy

— Clash Report (@clashreport) May 19, 2024

Almost immediately, a number of online commenters raised the question of potential foreign involvement… “Israel?” some asked. However, it’s also well understood that helicopters become more prone to incidents in foggy or inclement weather, and over mountainous difficult terrain. Iran’s aviation industry has also long languished under Washington-led sanctions.

⚡️The four Iranian officials who were in the helicopter according to the reports:
Ibrahim Raisi – President of Iran
Hussein Amir Abdel-Lahyan – Minister of Foreign Affairs (bottom left)
Malek Rahmati – Governor of East Azerbaijan Province (below right)
Muhammad Ali al-Hashem -… pic.twitter.com/XNZjEUQ2Nf

— War Monitor (@WarMonitors) May 19, 2024


Tyler Durden
Sun, 05/19/2024 – 14:20