Whereabouts unknown

Iraqi PM offers support in search for missing helicopter carrying Iranian president

BAGHDAD — Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al Sudani has directed the Ministry of Interior, the Iraqi Red Crescent, and other relevant agencies to offer their resources to assist Iran in the search for the missing helicopter carrying Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and several senior officials.

The helicopter was reported missing Sunday afternoon during a flight over the mountainous regions of East Azerbaijan Province. It was on its way to inspect several development projects in the area. President Raisi, his chief of staff, two senior advisers, and the pilot were aboard.

The Iranian Red Crescent reported that the helicopter’s last known location was near a copper mine in the Dizmar forest area, between the villages of Uzi and Pirdavood. The region is known for its dense forests and rugged terrain, complicating search and rescue efforts. An Iranian official told Reuters, “We still have hope of finding the president, but the information from the crash site is very concerning.”

The Iraqi Red Crescent has assembled four search and rescue teams, totaling 20 members, to be sent to Iran. They will assist the Iranian Red Crescent in the search for the missing helicopter.

Iranian authorities have provided limited information on the incident. Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi described the event as a “hard landing,” suggesting a potential crash. The helicopter was part of a convoy of three helicopters. The other two helicopters, carrying other ministers and officials, arrived safely at their destination.

The official statement from the Iranian government listed the names of the accompanying officials who were with President Raisi for the inauguration of a joint dam with Azerbaijan on the historic Aras River. These officials included Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, East Azerbaijan Governor Malek Rahmati, and Tabriz Friday Prayer Leader Ayatollah Al-Hashem.

Due to heavy fog, rescue teams have halted aerial search operations and will continue their efforts on the ground. Forty rescue teams are currently conducting search operations in East Azerbaijan Province, focusing on the difficult and heavily forested areas around the last known location of the helicopter.