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Azerbaijan Expresses Condolences as Iran’s President Raisi and Officials Die in Helicopter Crash

By Gunay Hajiyeva May 20, 2024

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A view of the wreckage of Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi's helicopter at the crash site on a mountain in Varzaghan area, northwestern Iran, May 20, 2024 / Stringer/WANA (West Asia News Agency) via REUTERS

The authorities of Azerbaijan conveyed condolences to Iran on Monday over the death of the Islamic Republic’s President Ebrahim Raisi, Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, and other high-level government officials in a helicopter crash.

“We were deeply shocked by the news of the tragic loss suffered by friendly and brotherly Islamic Republic of Iran, and its people — the fatal helicopter crash that claimed the lives of Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian, and other accompanying persons,” President Ilham Aliyev said in a letter to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

President Aliyev further stated that the Iranian people lost a prominent statesman who served his country with dedication and loyalty all his life.

Azerbaijan’s Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov posted his condolence message on X (formerly Twitter).

“I am deeply shocked by the news of the death of the President of Iran, the Foreign Minister, my dear friend Hossein Amir Abdullahian & other officials. I express deepest condolences to the brotherly nation of Iran, families, and friends of those who died in this tragic accident,” Minister Bayramov wrote.

Azerbaijan’s Defense Minister, Colonel-General Zakir Hasanov, also extended his condolences to Mohammad Hossein Bagheri, the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of Iran.

Reports first surfaced on Sunday about a helicopter crash in Iran’s East Azerbaijan province. The helicopter was transporting several high-profile Iranian individuals, including President Ebrahim Raisi, Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, Tabriz Friday prayers leader Ayatollah Mohammed Ali Ale-Hashem, East Azerbaijan province's Governor General Malek Rahmati, as well as an unspecified number of guards and crew members.

The crash occurred when the eighth president of Iran, Raisi, was en route to Tabriz City on May 19, after he commissioned the “Khudafarin” hydroelectric complex and inaugurated the “Giz Galasi” hydropower plant on the Iran-Azerbaijan border where he had met his Azerbaijani counterpart, Ilham Aliyev.

Heavy fog in the area at the time of the crash impeded the subsequent large-scale search and rescue efforts. The crash site in the Dizmar-e Sharqi Rural District, East Azerbaijan province in northwestern Iran, was ultimately located by a drone provided by Türkiye.

The death of the individuals on board of the helicopter was confirmed shortly after rescuers reached the site and reported no signs of survival. Iran’s Red Crescent Society reported that the passengers died immediately after the helicopter hit the ground.

Five days of mourning have been announced in Iran. President Raisi and his entourage, who died in the tragic accident, will reportedly be buried on Tuesday.

Mohammad Mokhber, 68, Iran's first vice-president, became interim president following the death of Ebrahim Raisi in the helicopter crash. The deputy of the late Foreign Minister Abdollahian, Ali Bagheri, will act as the interim head of the Foreign Ministry. A new president of the Islamic Republic will be elected in elections to take place on June 28, 2024.