Published 11:37 IST, May 21st 2024

Helicopter Crash That Killed Iran’s President Raisi Caused By ‘Technical Failure': State Media

The crash killed all eight people aboard the Bell 212 helicopter that Iran purchased in the early 2000s.

Reported by: Digital Desk
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Rescue team members work at the scene of a crash of a helicopter carrying Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in Varzaghan in northwestern Iran. | Image: AP photo

Tehran: The helicopter crash that resulted in the deaths of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian, and other officials and crew was caused by a "technical failure," according to Iranian state media. The Iranian President, the country’s foreign minister and others were found dead Monday at the site of a helicopter crash after an hourslong search through a foggy, mountainous region in the country’s northwest.

Raisi was returning after traveling to Iran’s border with Azerbaijan to inaugurate a dam with Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev when the crash occurred in the Dizmar forest in East Azerbaijan province.


Authorities in Iran have provided little information about the circumstances of the crash that killed President Ebrahim Raisi and eight others but have attributed it to a “technical failure.” U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the U.S. continues to monitor the situation surrounding the “very unfortunate helicopter crash” but has no insight into the cause. “I don’t necessarily see any broader regional security impacts at this point in time,” he said.

The Helicopter That Crashed

The crash killed all eight people aboard the Bell 212 helicopter that Iran purchased in the early 2000s. The crashed aircraft was developed for the Canadian military in the late 1960s as an upgrade of another aircraft. It is a widely used civilian version of the Vietnam-era Huey military helicopter, operated by armed forces and businesses around the globe. The model is a two-blade twin-engine medium helicopter with up to 15 seats that first flew in 1968, according to Skybrary, an aviation database. The helicopter was reportedly US-designed.


Iran's Next Leader

Raisi was seen as a protege to Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and a potential successor for his position within the country’s Shiite theocracy.

Under the Iranian constitution, if a president dies, the country’s first vice president — in this case, Mohammad Mokhber — becomes acting president, with elections mandated within 50 days. Khamenei has publicly assured Iranians that there would be “no disruption to the operations of the country” as a result of the crash.


Hence, Iran's first Vice President Mohammad Mokhber was appointed acting president of the Islamic Republic on Monday after the death of President Ebrahim Raisi in the chopper crash. Mokhber, 68, has largely been in the shadows compared to other politicians in Iran's Shiite theocracy. Raisi's death Sunday thrust Mokhber into public view. He is expected to serve as caretaker president for some 50 days before mandatory presidential elections in Iran.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei made the announcement of Mokhber’s appointment in a condolence message after the crash. The helicopter was found Monday in northwestern Iran.


11:28 IST, May 21st 2024