May 19, 2024 helicopter crash involving Iranian president (2024)

12:57 a.m. ET, May 20, 2024

Iranian media has confirmed the death of Iran's PresidentEbrahim Raisi. Our live coverage continues here.

11:50 p.m. ET, May 19, 2024

President Raisi was likely traveling on a Bell 212 helicopter acquired before the Iranian Revolution, military expert says

From CNN's Rhea Mogul

May 19, 2024 helicopter crash involving Iranian president (1)

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi was likely traveling on a Bell 212 helicopter that began operating in the late 1960s, according to CNN military analyst Cedric Leighton.

Leighton told CNN's Paula Newton that the difficulty in obtaining spare parts could have played a factor in the crash.

The helicopter was first produced in the United States and then in Canada, Leighton, a retired US Air Force colonel, said.

“It was firstintroduced during the latter period of the Shah’s rule in 1976 in commercial form and it had a life before that in the US military, so the actual start of this particular type of helicopter may have been as early as the late 1960s,” Leighton said.

“So spareparts would have definitelybeen an issue for the Iranians.”

“In this particular case, Ithink this confluence of spareparts, because of the sanctions,plus the weather which wasvery bad over the last fewdays in this particular part ofnorthwestern Iran. All of that,I think contributed to a seriesof incidents and a series ofdecisions that the pilot andpossibly even the presidenthimself made when it came toflying this aircraft…And unfortunately forthem, the result is this crash.”
11:45 p.m. ET, May 19, 2024

Drone footage shows wreckage of crashed helicopter

By CNN's Jerome Taylor

May 19, 2024 helicopter crash involving Iranian president (2)

Iran’s president and foreign minister are presumed dead after Iranian media agencies reported that “no survivors” were found at the crash site of a helicopter carrying the two men and seven others.

Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi and Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian were among the senior officials on board the downed helicopter.

Drone footage of the wreckage taken by the Red Crescent and carried on state media FARS News Agency showed the crash site on a steep, wooded hillside, with little remaining of the helicopter beyond a blue and white tail.

No official announcement of their deaths has yet been made.

Reuters news agency also cited an unnamed Iranian official as saying all passengers are feared dead.

11:35 p.m. ET, May 19, 2024

No signs of life from helicopter passengers, says head of Iranian Red Crescent

From CNN's Negar Mahmoodi

There are no signs of life from those traveling on the helicopter that crashed in Iran's East Azerbaijan province, said Pir-Hossein Kolivand, head of the Iranian Red Crescent, according to Iranian state news IRIB.

Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi is believed dead after Iranian agencies reported that "no survivors" were found at the crash site of a helicopter carrying the leader, Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian, and seven others.

11:17 p.m. ET, May 19, 2024

BREAKING: "No survivors" found at crash site of helicopter carrying Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi, Iranian agencies report

From CNN's ArtemisMoshtaghian

May 19, 2024 helicopter crash involving Iranian president (3)

"No survivors" were found at the crash site of the helicopter carrying Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi,Iranian state news agency IRINN and semi-official news agency Mehr News reported.

Some background: A former hardline judiciary chief, Raisi was Iran’s eighth president. The former prosecutor and judge was elected in 2021 following a historically uncompetitive presidential contest.

He oversaw a period ofintensified repression of dissent, according to human rights monitors.

Next in the line of succession would be First Vice President Mohammad Mokhber, if approved by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Iran's Supreme Leader serves as the final arbiter of domestic and foreign affairs in the Islamic Republic, dwarfing the powers of the country's president.

Unlike his predecessor, the moderate former President Hassan Rouhani, Raisi had fostered a close alliance with Khamenei.Many Iranians believed Raisi was being groomed to one day succeed the ailing 85-year-old Khamenei.

CNN's Tamara Qiblawi contributed reporting to this post.

10:44 p.m. ET, May 19, 2024

Rescuers have reached crash site of helicopter carrying Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi

From Negar Mahmoodi and ArtemisMoshtaghian

Rescuers have reached the crash site of the helicopter carrying President Ebrahim Raisi, Iran’s semi-official Tasnim news agency.

The agency did not say the condition of those who were on board the helicopter.

At least 73 rescue teams are in the area of the helicopter crash near the village of Tavil in Iran's East Azerbaijan province, according to Pir-Hossein Kolivand, head of the Iranian Red Crescent, Tasnim reported.

Kolivand said the "the situation is not good," according to Iranian state news IRNA.

2:54 a.m. ET, May 20, 2024

It's 6 a.m. in Tehran. Here's what we know

CNN staff

May 19, 2024 helicopter crash involving Iranian president (4)

The crash site of the helicopter carrying Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi has been located, Iranian state news agency IRNA and semi-official news outlet ISNA reported on Monday.

The helicopter crashed in a remote part of the countryon Sunday.

As president of Iran, Raisi is the second most powerful individual in the Islamic Republic's political structure after Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. He became president in a historically uncompetitive election in 2021, and he has overseen a period of intensified repression of dissent in a nation convulsed by youth-led protests against religious clerical rule.

The crash comes at a fraught moment in the Middle East, with war raging in Gaza and weeks after Iran launched a drone-and-missile attack on Israel in response to a deadly strike on its diplomatic compound in Damascus.

Here’s what to know:

  • Others on board: Nine people were onboard the helicopter, including the country's foreign minister, and their status remains unknown as rescue operations continue through the early hours on Monday.
  • Rescue: Rescuers are contending with dense fog and extreme cold in the country's remote East Azerbaijan Province. A Turkish drone had located a heat source but have not reached the crash site nor located the helicopter. Turkey and Russia have said they are sending aircraft to help in search operations.
10:29 p.m. ET, May 19, 2024

BREAKING: Rescuers locate crash site of helicopter carrying Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi, state media says

From CNN's Negar Mahmoodi and ArtemisMoshtaghian

The crash site of the helicopter carrying Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi and the country's foreign minister has been located, Iranian state news agency IRNA and semi-official news outlet ISNA reported on Monday.

Rescuers are approaching the scene of the accident, ISNA said, citing Pir-Hossein Kolivand, head of the Iranian Red Crescent.

State media did not give the exact location of the site.

More to follow.

11:19 p.m. ET, May 19, 2024

Analysis: Helicopter crash comes at a fraught time for region — and Iran itself

From CNN's Jerome Taylor

May 19, 2024 helicopter crash involving Iranian president (5)

The crash of a helicopter carrying Iran’s president and foreign minister comes at an especially fraught moment in the Middle East – and for Iran domestically.

Israel’s war against Hamas and the subsequent humanitarian catastrophe that has unfolded in Gaza over the last seven months has inflamed global opinion and sent tensions soaring across the Middle East.

It has also brought a decades-long shadow war between Iran and Israel out into the open.

Last month Iran launched an unprecedented drone and missile attack on Israel — its first ever direct attack on the country — in response to a deadly apparent Israeli airstrike on Iran’s consulate in Damascus that killed a top commander in Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards (IRGC).

Israel struck back a week later, according to US officials, hitting targets outside the Iranian city of Isfahan with a much smaller, calibrated response.

Since then the tit-for-tat direct strikes between the two have stopped. But the proxy war continues with Iran-backed militias such as Hamas and Hezbollah continuing to fight Israel’s forces.

Meanwhile, Iran’s hardline leadership has weathered an explosion of recent popular dissent on the streets at home where years of US-led sanctions have hit hard.

The country was convulsed by youth-led demonstrations against clerical rule and worsening economic conditions following the 2022 death of Mahsa Amini in the custody of Iran’s notorious morality police.

Iranian authorities have since launched a widening crackdown on dissent in response to the protests.

That crackdown has led to human rights violations, some of which amount to “crimes against humanity,” according to a United Nations report released in March.

And while the protests for now have largely stopped, opposition to clerical leadership remains deeply entrenched among many Iranians, especially the young, who yearn for reform, jobs and a move away from stifling religious rule.

A former hardline judiciary chief with his own brutal human rights record, Raisi was elected president in 2021 in a vote that was heavily engineered by the Islamic Republic’s political elite so that he would run virtually uncontested.

While he is president, his powers aredwarfed by those ofSupreme LeaderAli Khamenei, who is the final arbiter of domestic and foreign affairs in the Islamic Republic.

May 19, 2024 helicopter crash involving Iranian president (2024)

FAQs

What caused the Iranian President helicopter crash? ›

What may have caused the helicopter crash that killed Iran's president Bad weather may have been a cause of Sunday's crash that killed Ebrahim Raisi. But mechanical issues, possibly exacerbated by a lack of spare parts due to U.S. sanctions, could also be a factor.

Did they find the iranian president yet? ›

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and the country's foreign minister were found dead Monday hours after their helicopter crashed in fog, leaving the Islamic Republic without two key leaders as extraordinary tensions grip the wider Middle East.

Did anyone survive the Iran helicopter crash? ›

President Ebrahim Raisi and seven other people were killed on Sunday when the helicopter they were travelling in came down near the border with Azerbaijan, Iranian authorities have confirmed. This is what we know so far about the crash.

How old was the helicopter that crashed in Iran? ›

The exact origin of the helicopter involved in the crash was not confirmed but an Iranian source said it was connected to the Islamic Republic Red Crescent Society. Experts said the few details available suggested it may be 40 to 50 years old.

What caused the helicopters to crash? ›

Poor weather conditions are a leading cause of helicopter, or rotor aircraft, crashes. According to an analysis presented at a 2021 forum of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, in 28% of all fatal helicopter crashes, weather was a factor.

What president was killed in a helicopter crash? ›

Mourners lined the streets of the Iranian city of Tabriz on Tuesday to farewell President Ebraham Raisi who was killed in a helicopter crash days earlier.

Did they find the Iran president body? ›

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, the country's foreign minister and others have been found dead at the site of a helicopter crash after an hourslong search through a foggy, mountainous region of the country's northwest, state media reported.

Has a US president ever visited Iran? ›

To date, 16 visits have been made to Egypt, 12 to Saudi Arabia, 11 to Israel, six to both Iraq, Jordan and Turkey, four to Iran, three to the Palestinian Territories, two to both Kuwait and Syria, one to Bahrain, Georgia, Oman, Qatar, and to the United Arab Emirates.

Is the president of Iran a dictator? ›

The president answers to the Supreme Leader, who functions as the country's head of state, and executes his decrees. Unlike the executive in other countries, the president of Iran does not have full control over the government, which is ultimately under the direct control of the Supreme Leader.

Were there any survivors in the helicopter crash? ›

Foreign minister among officials and crew on board when the aircraft tumbled down, leaving no survivors.

Who was in the helicopter with the Iranian president? ›

The charred wreckage of the helicopter which crashed on Sunday carrying Raisi, Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian and six other passengers and crew was found early on Monday after an overnight search in blizzard conditions.

How many helicopters Iran has? ›

Iran has 62 Bell helicopters in active operation, including 13 Bell 212s, according to Cirium. Open-source intelligence analysts believe the crashed helicopter had a registration number 6-9207, which identifies it as having been delivered to the Iranian air force as long ago as 1994.

Did anyone survive Flight 92? ›

Of the 118 passengers on board, 39 were killed outright in the crash and eight died later of their injuries, for a total of 47 fatalities. All eight crew members survived the accident.

What was the cause of the East Coast Jet Flight 81? ›

In the NTSB's final report, it states the following: The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was the captain's decision to attempt a go-around late in the landing roll with insufficient runway remaining.

What was the cause of the crash of the Comair flight 3272? ›

The NTSB determined that the probable cause was inadequate standards for icing operations while in flight, specifically the failure of the Federal Aviation Administration to establish adequate minimum airspeeds for icing conditions, leading to a loss of control when the airplane accumulated a thin, rough accretion of ...

What caused the Iranian coup? ›

Judging Mosaddegh to be unamenable and fearing the growing influence of the communist Tudeh, UK prime minister Winston Churchill and the Eisenhower administration decided in early 1953 to overthrow Iran's government.

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