Updated May 20th, 2024 at 17:10 IST

After Ebrahim Raisi's Death, Mohammad Mokhber Takes Over As Interim President

Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi and Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian were on board the chopper that suffered a “hard landing” in Azerbaijan province on Sunday. The official expressed concern, saying, "We are still hopeful but information coming from the crash site is very concerning."

Reported by: Isha Bhandari
Raisi's helicopter located by search teams after around 12 hours of crash | Image: AP, Reuters, X
5: 10 IST, May 20th 2024

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, the country’s foreign minister and several other officials were found dead on Monday, hours after their helicopter crashed in a foggy, mountainous region of the country’s northwest, state media reported.

The crash comes as the Middle East remains unsettled by the Israel-Hamas war, during which Raisi, who was 63, under Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei launched an unprecedented drone-and-missile attack on Israel just last month.

2: 08 IST, May 20th 2024

 Iran's supreme leader appoints First Vice President Mohammad Mokhber as country's acting president after Raisi's death, reported AP.

1: 35 IST, May 20th 2024

“We are deeply saddened by the news of the tragic death of President Ebrahim Raisi, Foreign Minister Amirabdolahian and those who accompanied them. Our thoughts and hearts are with those near and dear to them in this hour of grief,” said Russia'a Ministry of Foeign Affairs. 

1: 33 IST, May 20th 2024

The bodies of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, his foreign minister and other officials who were killed in a helicopter crash were transported to Tabriz city in Iran, state media reported on Monday. Pir Hossein Kolivand, head of the Islamic Republic Red Crescent Society (IRCS), said that the large-scale search and rescue operation for Raisi and other officials concluded as their bodies were sent to a place in Iran's East Azarbaijan province where they will be buried.

12: 16 IST, May 20th 2024

A Houthi leader in Yemen on Monday mourned the death of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and other senior officials who were killed in a helicopter crash. “Our deepest condolences to the Iranian people and the Iranian leadership and to the families of the president and the accompanying delegation,” Mohamed Ali al-Houthi, the head of the Houthis' Supreme Revolutionary Committees. “The Iranian people will continue to have leaders loyal to their people, God willing.” Iran is the main backer of the Houthis in their yearslong war against Yemen's internationally recognized government, which is backed by a Saudi-led military coalition.

12: 15 IST, May 20th 2024

Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani expressed “great sadness and great sorrow” on the death of Raisi, said a statement on Monday. Sudani's government coalition is close to Tehran. He also extended “sincere condolences” to Iran's supreme leader and government and “solidarity with the brotherly Iranian people."


12: 15 IST, May 20th 2024

Pakistan's Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif announced a day of mourning over the death of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi. “I along with the government and people of Pakistan extend our deepest condolences and sympathies to the Iranian nation on this terrible loss. May the martyred souls rest in heavenly peace. The great Iranian nation will overcome this tragedy with customary courage,” Sharif wrote on the social platform X on Monday.

Sharif recently hosted Raisi and Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian when they visited Pakistan.


12: 15 IST, May 20th 2024

Iran's Cabinet on Monday held an emergency meeting as state media announced the death of President Ebrahim Raisi. The Cabinet offered its condolences, saying in a statement that he made the ultimate sacrifice in serving his country, according to a report by the state-run IRNA news agency. The report was accompanied by a photo of Raisi's chair draped in black, his photo on the desk.

“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 IRNA.


11: 58 IST, May 20th 2024

Rescue teams have recovered the dead bodies of leaders who died in the helicopter crash including Raisi and Amirabdollahian


11: 10 IST, May 20th 2024

As per the Constitution, Iran's first vice-president Mohammad Mokhber will take over as the interim president of Iran after the confirmation of supreme leader. 

10: 09 IST, May 20th 2024

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, the country's foreign minister Hossein Amirabdollahian and others have been found dead at the site of a helicopter crash Monday after an hours long search through a foggy, mountainous region of the country's northwest, state media reported. State TV gave no immediate cause for the crash in Iran's East Azerbaijan province.

10: 17 IST, May 20th 2024

Iran's president Ebrahim Raisi and foreign minister killed in a helicopter crash, state-linked news agency MEHR reported. “President Raeisi, along with Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, East Azarbaijan Gov. Malek Rahmati, East Azarbaijan Imam of Friday Prayer Mohammad Ali Ale-Hashem, & several other passengers, has been martyred in a helicopter crash in northwest of Iran,” said Iran's Press TV in a post on X. 


8: 52 IST, May 20th 2024

 Iran state TV said 'no sign of life' detected at crash site of helicopter carrying President Ebrahim Raisi, others, reports AP. 



8: 12 IST, May 20th 2024


Helicopter carrying Ebrahim Raisi which crashed in foggy, mountainous region has been spotted by search team on Monday, reported AP. The head of the Iranian Red Crescent Society, Pir Hossein Kolivand, said rescue teams were reaching the helicopter. He said they are seeing the helicopter from some 2 kilometres away.



12: 14 IST, May 20th 2024

A local weather official says the area where the president’s helicopter went down is expected to keep seeing rain and dense fog through the night.

“In the area of the village of Uzi a combination of rain and winds will be seen, and the wind is blowing at around 10 kilometres per hour,” Habib Abdoli, the head of East Azerbaijan’s weather forecast authority, was quoted as saying by state media.


12: 12 IST, May 20th 2024

The Turkish foreign ministry said it was following developments in Sunday’s Iran helicopter accident with sadness and hoping for the president’s wellbeing, adding that action had been taken to provide all kinds of support to search and rescue activities.

“We hope that the Iranian officials, including Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian are safe and healthy,” it said in a statement.

12: 05 IST, May 20th 2024

An official with the Iranian Red Crescent who is in the area where search operations are ongoing says “local media” were behind unconfirmed reports that the helicopter had been found.

A state television reporter in the area also quoted Energy Minister Ali Akbar Mehrabian as saying there have been no updates.

But the reporter said search and rescue teams are believed to be within two kilometres of an area where there is a possibility of the helicopter being found.

11: 49 IST, May 19th 2024

The helicopter that crashed has been found by search teams, state TV have reported.

There is no update yet on the condition of those on board.

11: 48 IST, May 19th 2024

Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani of Iraq has directed the country's interior ministry and other relevant authorities to extend assistance in the search for the missing helicopter, as stated by Bassem al-Awadi, a spokesman for the Iraqi government.

11: 27 IST, May 19th 2024

Iranian official reports contact established with passenger and crew members on board the helicopter that crashed in Iran’s East Azerbaijan province.

11: 21 IST, May 19th 2024

The Armenian Foreign Ministry has issued a brief statement expressing shock and concern over the helicopter incident involving Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi. The ministry conveyed its prayers for the safety of President Raisi and others affected by the crash.

"As rescue operations continue, Armenia, as a close and friendly neighbor of Iran, is ready to provide all necessary support," the statement read.

11: 06 IST, May 19th 2024

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei conveyed his concerns during a meeting with families of IRGC personnel, addressing the missing helicopter incident, according to media reports. Expressing empathy, Ayatollah Khamenei stated, "We pray to God for the safe return of the honorable president and his companions to the embrace of the nation. Everyone should pray for the well-being of these public servants." He reassured the nation, saying, "The Iranian people need not worry; there will be no disruption in the country's operations."

11: 01 IST, May 19th 2024

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has reacted to the news of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi's helicopter crash. In a statement posted on X, Prime Minister Modi expressed deep concern, stating, "Deeply concerned by reports regarding President Raisi’s helicopter flight today. We stand in solidarity with the Iranian people in this hour of distress, and pray for the well-being of the President and his entourage."

10: 59 IST, May 19th 2024

According to media reports, the European Union has activated its Copernicus satellite system to offer emergency mapping services to help Iranian officials gain better visibility of the area where the crash is believed to have occurred. 

10: 56 IST, May 19th 2024

The White House confirmed that President Joe Biden was briefed on the helicopter crash involving Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi. Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, accompanying Biden aboard Air Force One on Sunday, offered no further details on the incident.

10: 52 IST, May 19th 2024

In a heartfelt response to the helicopter crash involving Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and his delegation, Azerbaijan's President expressed deep concern and offered assistance.

"Today, after bidding a friendly farewell to the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ebrahim Raisi, we were profoundly troubled by the news of a helicopter carrying the top delegation crash-landing in Iran. Our prayers to Allah Almighty are with President Ebrahim Raisi and the accompanying delegation. As a neighbor, friend, and brotherly country, the Republic of Azerbaijan stands ready to offer any assistance needed," said Azerbaijan's president.


10: 48 IST, May 19th 2024

According to media reports, government spokesman Ali Bahadori Jahromi said that Mohammad Mokhber, accompanied by other government officials, has journeyed to Tabriz. Jahromi also disclosed that a government cabinet meeting convened, during which the most recent updates regarding the missing helicopter were provided.


10: 20 IST, May 19th 2024

Iran's hard-line President Ebrahim Raisi has long been seen as a protégé to Iran's supreme leader and a potential successor for his position within the country's Shiite theocracy. News of his helicopter making what state media described as a “hard landing” on Sunday immediately brought new attention to the leader, who already faces sanctions from the US and other nations over his involvement in the mass execution of prisoners in 1988.

Raisi, 63, previously ran Iran's judiciary. He ran unsuccessfully for president in 2017 against Hassan Rouhani, the relatively moderate cleric who as president reached Tehran's 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.

In 2021, Raisi ran again in an election that saw all of his potentially prominent opponents barred from running under Iran's vetting system. He swept nearly 62 per cent of the 28.9 million votes, the lowest turnout by percentage in the Islamic Republic’s history. Millions stayed home and others voided ballots.

Raisi was defiant when asked at a news conference after his election about the 1988 executions, which saw sham retrials of political prisoners, militants and others that would become known as “death commissions” at the end of the bloody Iran-Iraq war.

10: 16 IST, May 19th 2024

Iran's Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi, stated that President Raisi and his companions were aboard multiple helicopters on the return journey, one of which was forced to make a hard landing due to adverse weather conditions in the area. 

Discussing the helicopter incident in East Azerbaijan, Vahidi said, "Today, we had the inauguration (ceremony) of the Qiz Qalasi Dam with the presence of the Azerbaijani president. After that, the president, along with companions, were aboard multiple helicopters on the return journey, one of which was forced to make a hard landing due to adverse weather conditions in the area." He added that rescue teams have been dispatched to the area, but due to the foggy and challenging terrain of the region, it may take some time to reach the helicopter.

Published May 19th, 2024 at 22:21 IST