Iran in Shock as President Raisi and Foreign Minister Amirabdollahian Confirmed Dead in Helicopter Crash

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and the country’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian have been confirmed dead following a helicopter crash. The incident occurred on Sunday, May 19, 2024, as the helicopter was traversing a mountainous terrain in heavy fog.

President Raisi was returning from a visit to neighboring Azerbaijan, where he had inaugurated a dam on the Aras river with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev. The helicopter carrying the President and other senior officials suffered a “hard landing” near Jolfa in Iran’s East Azerbaijan province. The exact cause of the crash remains unclear.

The Iranian military chief, Major-General Mohammad Bagheri, has mobilized all available resources for the search and rescue operation. However, the adverse weather conditions and heavy fog in the area have been impeding the rescue efforts.

The news of the crash has sent shockwaves through Iran and the international community. Iranian state media urged Iranians to pray for Raisi and state TV carried prayers for his safety. The semi-official Fars news agency reported that people who were with the president inside the helicopter managed to make an emergency call, which initially raised hopes of no fatalities.

However, the worst fears were confirmed when Iranian state media reported the deaths of President Raisi and Foreign Minister Amirabdollahian. The news has plunged Iran into a state of mourning, with state broadcasters airing Islamic prayers in between their news broadcasts.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif announced a national day of mourning following the confirmation of President Raisi’s death. In a statement released on X, formerly known as Twitter, he said, “Pakistan will observe a day of mourning and the flag will fly at half mast as a mark of respect for President Raisi and his companions and in solidarity with Brotherly Iran.” This gesture is a testament to the deep ties between the two nations and their shared grief in this time of loss.

The Prime Minister further extended his condolences to the Iranian nation, stating, “I along with the government and people of Pakistan extend our deepest condolences and sympathies to the Iranian nation on this terrible loss.” He also expressed his belief in the resilience of the Iranian nation, noting that they would overcome this tragedy with their customary courage.

President Asif Ali Zardari also expressed his profound shock and sorrow over the tragic accident. In a statement issued by the President House, he said, “Pakistan mourns the loss of a great friend […] may Allah Almighty bless his soul and grant patience and strength to his family and the people of Iran in this time of irreparable loss.” He further added that President Raisi will be dearly missed and fondly remembered in Iran, Pakistan, and the Islamic World for his efforts to enhance relations with regional and Islamic countries.

The tragic incident has left a void in the hearts of many, especially in Pakistan, where President Raisi held a special place. His commitment to strengthening bilateral relations between the neighboring countries was well recognized and appreciated. As Pakistan mourns the loss of a great friend and leader, it stands in solidarity with its Iranian brothers and sisters, sharing their grief in this time of sorrow.

President Raisi, a hard-line conservative cleric, was known for his strict enforcement of women’s dress codes and escalating military tensions around Europe and the Middle East. His death comes at a particularly tense time in the Middle East, with ongoing conflicts and humanitarian crises.

The loss of President Raisi and Foreign Minister Amirabdollahian is a significant blow to Iran. It remains to be seen how this tragic incident will impact the country’s domestic affairs and its relations with the international community.

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