Iran helicopter crash LIVE: Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi killed alongside country's foreign minister killed after aircraft plummets into mountain range - latest updates

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Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi has been killed in a helicopter crash, Iranian state media has confirmed.

Mr Raisi was on board an aircraft alongside the Iranain foreign minster Hossein Amir-Abdollahian when it crashed into a mountain range on Sunday after it got into difficulty while travelling in heavy fog.

Rescuers said there was “no sign of life” when they managed to reach the wreckage with the search effort hampered by bad weather conditions.

Follow MailOnline’s live coverage below

Pictures: Flowers outside embassies and flags flown at half mast in show of support to Iran

New photographs have emerged of floral tributes left outside the Iranian embassy in Moscow, while some countries are flying flags at half mast to pay their respects to Ebrahim Raisi, Iran’s president who was killed in a helicopter crash.

Lebanon, Pakistan and Syria have all declared days of mourning.

A view shows flowers outside the Iranian embassy placed to pay tribute to Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi, Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian and other victims of a recent helicopter crash in mountainous terrain near Iran's border with Azerbaijan, in Moscow, Russia, May 20, 2024. A placard with a portrait of Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi reads: "We mourn". REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov
A man lays flowers outside the Iranian embassy to pay tribute to Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi, Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian and other victims of a recent helicopter crash in mountainous terrain near Iran's border with Azerbaijan, in Moscow, Russia, May 20, 2024. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov
epa11354858 The Lebanese national flag flies at half-mast at the Government Palace in Beirut, Lebanon, 20 May 2024. Lebanese caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati on 20 May issued a memorandum declaring three days of mourning after the death of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in a helicopter crash in a mountainous region of northwestern Iran. According to Iranian state media, President Raisi, Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and several others were killed in a helicopter crash in the mountainous Varzaghan area on 19 May, during their return to Tehran, after an inauguration ceremony of the joint Iran-Azerbaijan constructed Qiz-Qalasi dam at the Aras river.  EPA/WAEL HAMZEH
epa11354898 The Pakistani national flag flies at half-mast at the parliament following the deaths of Iran's President Raisi and Foreign Minister Amir-Abdollahian, in Islamabad, Pakistan, 20 May 2024. Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi, Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and several others were killed in a helicopter crash on 19 May 2024, after an official visit in Iran's northwest near the border with Azerbaijan, the Iranian government confirmed.  EPA/SOHAIL SHAHZAD

Analysis: How will helicopter crash affect the picture across the Middle East?

The crash of a helicopter carrying Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, the country’s foreign minister and other officials is likely to reverberate across the Middle East.

That’s because Iran has spent decades supporting armed groups in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Yemen and the Palestinian territories that allow it to project power and potentially deter attacks from the United States or Israel, the sworn enemies of its 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Tensions have never been higher than they were last month, when Iran under Raisi and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei launched hundreds of drones and ballistic missiles at Israel in response to an airstrike on an Iranian Consulate in Syria that killed two Iranian generals and five officers.

Israel, with the help of the US, Britain, Jordan and others, intercepted nearly all the projectiles.

In response, Israel apparently launched its own strike against an air defense radar system in the Iranian city of Isfahan, causing no casualties but sending an unmistakable message.

The sides have waged a shadow war of covert operations and cyberattacks for years, but the exchange of fire in April was their first direct military confrontation.

MailOnline reporter Chris Jewers has reported how Raisi earned himself the nickname the ‘Butcher of Tehran’.

The now dead president oversaw the massacre of thousands in Iran, imposed a brutal hijab crackdown and moved his country towards building nuclear weapons.

Iran helicopter crash: What we know about the aircraft

TOPSHOT - In this photo provided by Islamic Republic News Agency IRNA on May 19, 2024, shows the helicopter carrying Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi taking off at the Iranian border with Azerbaijan after the inauguration of the dam of Qiz Qalasi, in Aras. A helicopter in the convoy of the Iranian president was involved in "an accident" in East Azerbaijan province on May 19, state televsion reported, without specifying if the president was on board. (Photo by Ali Hamed HAGHDOUST / IRNA / AFP) (Photo by ALI HAMED HAGHDOUST/IRNA/AFP via Getty Images)

Iran’s President and Foreign Minister were killed after they boarded a Bell 212 helicopter at the Azerbaijan border to take them to Tabriz, a city in Iran’s East Azerbaijan province.

Here’s what we know about the helicopters

  • Bell Helicopter (now Bell Textron, a division of Textron Inc ) developed the aircraft for the Canadian military in the late 1960s as an upgrade of the original UH-1 Iroquois.
  • The helicopter was introduced in 1971 and quickly adopted by both the United States and Canada, according to U.S. military training documents.
  • As a utility helicopter – the UH in its military designation represents those words – the Bell 212 is meant to be adaptable to all sorts of situations, including carrying people, deploying aerial firefighting gear, ferrying cargo and mounting weapons.
  • The Iranian model that crashed on Sunday was configured to carry government passengers.
  • Bell Helicopter advertises the latest version, the Subaru Bell 412, for police use, medical transport, troop transport, the energy industry and firefighting. According to its type certification documents with the European Union Aviation Safety Agency, it can carry 15 people, including the crew.
  • The most recent fatal crash of a Bell 212 was in September 2023, when a privately operated aircraft crashed off the coast of the United Arab Emirates, according to the Flight Safety Foundation, a non-profit focusing on aviation safety.
  • The most recent Iranian crash of the type was in 2018, killing four people, according to the organisation’s database.

Raisi’s funeral ‘to be held tomorrow’

It has been reported that Ebrahim Raisi’s funeral will take place tomorrow in Tabriz, the city he was travelling to when he was killed in a helicopter crash on Sunday.

According to the Tasnim news agency, affiliated to the country’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, funerals for all other officials will also take place in the East Azerbaijan province.

In pictures: How Iran reacted to President’s death

Iranians are about to enter a period of national mourning after President Ebrahim Raisi was killed in a helicopter crash.

Confirmation of Raisi’s death came earlier today after the aircraft plummeted into a mountainous area on Sunday as it transported the 63-year-old to Tabriz from the Azerbaijan border.

These photographs show how Iran has reacted to Raisi’s death which is on the front page of newspapers across the country.

TEHRAN, IRAN - MAY 19: Iranians pray for the President Ebrahim Raisi and his delegation, who had a helicopter crash and have not been heard from yet at Veliasr Square in Tehran, Iran on May 19, 2024. (Photo by Fatemeh Bahrami/Anadolu via Getty Images)
TEHRAN, IRAN - MAY 19: Iranians pray for the President Ebrahim Raisi and his delegation, who had a helicopter crash and have not been heard from yet at Veliasr Square in Tehran, Iran on May 19, 2024. (Photo by Fatemeh Bahrami/Anadolu via Getty Images)
TEHRAN, IRAN - MAY 19: Iranians pray for the President Ebrahim Raisi and his delegation, who had a helicopter crash and have not been heard from yet at Veliasr Square in Tehran, Iran on May 19, 2024. (Photo by Fatemeh Bahrami/Anadolu via Getty Images)
TEHRAN, IRAN - MAY 20: Newspapers cover the death of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in a helicopter crash on their headlines in the country's press in Tehran, Iran on May 20, 2024. (Photo by Fatemeh Bahrami/Anadolu via Getty Images)

Iran appoints new foreign minister

FILE PHOTO: Iran's Chief Nuclear Negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani leaves the Palais Coburg, the venue where closed-door nuclear talks take place in Vienna, Austria, August 4,2022. REUTERS/Lisa Leutner/File Photo

Iran’s deputy foreign minister Ali Bagheri Kani (pictured) has been appointed the acting foreign minister, following the death of Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, according to Reuters news agency.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei assigned vice president Mohammad Mokhber to assume interim duties after the death of president Ebrahim Raisi in a helicopter crash a day earlier.

“In accordance with Article 131 of the constitution, Mokhber is in charge of leading the executive branch,” said Khamenei in a statement, adding that Mokhber will be required to work with the heads of legislative and judicial to prepare for presidential elections “within a maximum period of 50 days”.

Watch: Footage captures helicopter crash site

Footage released by Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) showed what they described as the crash site, across a steep valley in a green mountain range.

Soldiers speaking in the local Azeri language said: “There it is, we found it.” Shortly after, state TV in an on-screen scrolling text said: “There is no sign of life from people on board.”

Breaking:Iran to hold five days of mourning

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks during a meeting with the families of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in Tehran, Iran May 19, 2024. Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader/WANA (West Asia News Agency)/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (pictured) has declared the country will observe five days of mourning following the death of President Ebrahim Raisi.

In comments reported by the Fars News Agency, the Ayatollah also announced vice president Mohammad Mokhber will assume the presidency and make arrangements with the head of the legislative and judicial branches to elect a new president within 50 days.

Who was Hossein Amir-Abdollahian? Iran’s Foreign Minister who died alongside Raisi

epa11354727 (FILE) - Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian attends a press conference following a meeting with Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad in Damascus, Syria, 08 April 2024 (reissued 20 May 2024). According to Iranian state media, President Raisi, Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and several others were killed in a helicopter crash in the mountainous Varzaghan area on 19 May, during their return to Tehran, after an inauguration ceremony of the joint Iran-Azerbaijan constructed Qiz-Qalasi dam at the Aras river.  EPA/YOUSSEF BADAWI

Much of the focus has been on the death of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi but Iran is mourning the loss of another senior political figure – the Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian (pictured).

Let’s take a look at Amir-Abdollahian’s life and career and what his death means for Iran going forward:

  • Amir-Abdollahian was born in the city of Damghan, east of Tehran, in 1964. He had earned a bachelor’s degree in international relations from the University of Tehran in 1991, later completing a master’s degree and a doctorate in the same field.
  • As a diplomat in the Iranian foreign service, his postings included Iraq, from 1997 to 2001, and Bahrain, from 2007 to 2010.
  • A career diplomat and conservative figure with close ties to the Revolutionary Guards, Amir-Abdollahian took office following Raisi’s 2021 election win.
  • Amir-Abdollahian’s tenure as Iran’s top diplomat was marked by intense diplomatic efforts aiming to end Iran’s isolation and offset the impact of crippling US sanctions over Iran’s contested nuclear programme.
  • He particularly sought to forge relations with the Islamic republic’s Arab neighbours including the region’s Sunni Muslim powerhouse Saudi Arabia.

He was married and had two children.

Vladimir Putin – Raisi was ‘true friend of Russia’

(FILES) Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with his Iranian counterpart Ebrahim Raisi on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) leaders' summit in Samarkand on September 15, 2022. Iranian media declared President Ebrahim Raisi dead on May 20, 2024 after his helicopter crashed in a mountainous northwestern region, but there has not yet been any official confirmation. Contact was lost with the aircraft carrying him as well as Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and others in East Azerbaijan province on May 19, 2024, reports said. (Photo by Alexandr Demyanchuk / SPUTNIK / AFP) (Photo by ALEXANDR DEMYANCHUK/SPUTNIK/AFP via Getty Images)

Russian President Vladimir Putin send his condolences to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Monday over the death of Ebrahim Raisi and said that he had been a true friend of Russia.

Putin and Raisi were pictured meeting one another in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, in September 2022.

Please accept my deep condolences in connection with the great tragedy that befell the people of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Seyed Ebrahim Raisi was an outstanding politician whose entire life was devoted to serving the Motherland.

As a true friend of Russia, he made an invaluable personal contribution to the development of good neighborly relations between our countries and made great efforts to bring them to the level of strategic partnership.

Israel not involved in helicopter crash, official says

TOPSHOT - In this photo provided by Islamic Republic News Agency IRNA on May 19, 2024, shows the helicopter carrying Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi taking off at the Iranian border with Azerbaijan after the inauguration of the dam of Qiz Qalasi, in Aras. A helicopter in the convoy of the Iranian president was involved in "an accident" in East Azerbaijan province on May 19, state televsion reported, without specifying if the president was on board. (Photo by Ali Hamed HAGHDOUST / IRNA / AFP) (Photo by ALI HAMED HAGHDOUST/IRNA/AFP via Getty Images)

Israel is yet to comment on Ebrahim Raisi’s death but an official has told the Reuters news agency that the country was not involved in the fatal helicopter crash which also killed Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian.

“It wasn’t us,” said the official, who requested anonymity.

The cause of the helicopter crash is not yet known but it is understood the aircraft got into difficulty during bad weather as blizzards hampered the search and rescue effort.

Iran and Israel are longtime enemies, with the latter strongly opposing Tehran’s developing nuclear programme,

Iran has backed, funded and trained several proxy group across the Middle East including Hamas in Gaza, the Houthis in Yemen and Hezbollah in Lebanon as well as factions in Iraq and Syria.

China sends condolences to Iran over Raisi’s death

China has become the latest country to show support to Iran after Xi Jinping, the Chinese President, expressed condolences in the wake of Ebrahim Raisi’s death.

We can also bring you more reaction from fellow world leaders:

  • Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said Raisi was a ‘valuable colleague and brother’ who he will remember with ‘respect and gratitude’.
  • Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said he will always remember Raisi’s visit to Syria in May last year as an ‘important milestone’ for relations between the two countries
  • Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev said Iran had lost an ‘outstanding statesman’ who served ‘elflessly and faithfully all his life’.

Hamas mourns Raisi

TOPSHOT - (FILES) Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi speaks before parliament in the capital Tehran, on August 25, 2021, to defend his choices for the ministerial posts. Iranian media declared President Ebrahim Raisi dead on May 20, 2024 after his helicopter crashed in a mountainous northwestern region, but there has not yet been any official confirmation. Contact was lost with the aircraft carrying him as well as Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and others in East Azerbaijan province on May 19, 2024, reports said. (Photo by ATTA KENARE / AFP) (Photo by ATTA KENARE/AFP via Getty Images)

Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist group and proscribed terrorist organisation, has mourned the death of President Raisi (pictured) whom they said had shown support during its war with Israel.

In a statement released following the deaths of Raisi and Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian, a Hamas spokesperson said:

These leaders supported the legitimate struggle of our people against the Zionist entity, provided valued support to the Palestinian resistance, and made tireless efforts in solidarity and support in all forums and fields for our people in the steadfast Gaza Strip during the Battle of Al-Aqsa Flood.

They also made significant political and diplomatic efforts to stop the Zionist aggression against our Palestinian people.

How the world reacted to Iran helicopter crash

World leaders have expressed their condolences to Iran following the death of the country’s President Ebrahim Raisi.

Here are statements from the leaders of India, Pakistan and Venezuela.

Watch: President Raisi’s final moments before helicopter crash

Footage showing President Raisi on board the helicopter that crashed and killed him has emerged.

Raisi was seen staring out of the window of the aircraft, which was traveling in the East Azerbaijan province near Jolfa, around 375 miles northwest of Tehran when it crashed.

Map: President’s helicopter crashed after taking off from Azerbaijan border

Here’s a map which shows where the helicopter carrying President Raisi crashed killing him and his officials.

The aircraft was taking Raisi from the Azerbaijan border to Tabriz, the capital of the East Azerbaijan Province, when it got into difficulties and plummeted into a mountainous area on Sunday.

Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi, 63, is confirmed dead after 'no sign of life' was found at helicopter crash site - as drone footage shows aircraft slammed into mountainside

In pictures: Iran helicopter crash

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi was killed when a helicopter he was travelling in crashed into a mountainous region in north-west Iran on Sunday.

The aircraft got into difficulties in heavy fog as it transported Mr Raisi and his officials to the city of Tabriz.

Here are some photographs of the helicopter crash and the search and rescue effort.

IRAN - MAY 20: (----EDITORIAL USE ONLY - MANDATORY CREDIT - 'IRANIAN RED CRESCENT SOCIETY / HANDOUT' - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS----) A screen grab captured from a video shows the location of wreck of helicopter carrying Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and his delegation has been detected in Iran on May 20, 2024. Helicopter carrying Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi crashed after the inauguration of a dam on the border along with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev in Jabrayil district of Azerbaijan on May 19, 2024. (Photo by Iranian Red Crescent Society/Anadolu via Getty Images)
The wreckage of Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi's helicopter at the crash site on a mountain in Varzaghan area, northwestern Iran, May 20, 2024. IRIB/WANA (West Asia News Agency)/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
Rescuers participate in what the Iranian Red Crescent Society says is a search and rescue operation following the crash of a helicopter carrying Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, at an unidentified location in this still image taken from video released May 20, 2024.     Iranian Red Crescent Society/Handout via REUTERS    THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES. MANDATORY CREDIT.

What happens now and who takes over?

(FILES) A handout picture provided by the Iranian Vice President's Media Office shows Vice President Mohammad Mokhber speaking at the ceremony to lay the foundation stone for the railway connection project at the Shalamcheh border crossing in Iraq's southern province of Basra Governorate on September 2, 2023. Iran's first vice president, Mohammad Mokhber, is expected assume the presidency after Ebrahim Raisi's death in a helicopter crash on May 19, 2024 as the country gears up for early elections. (Photo by Iranian Vice-Presidency / AFP) / === RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / HO / IRANIAN VICE PRESIDENCY" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS === (Photo by -/Iranian Vice-Presidency/AFP via Getty Images)

Under the Iranian constitution, Iran´s vice first president takes over if the president dies with Ayatollah Khamenei´s ascent, and a new presidential election would be called within 50 days.

Iranian state media has already reported Mohammad Mokhber, 68 has assumed the role of interim president and has already had begun receiving calls from officials and foreign governments.

Mokhber will lead a temporary government alongside the speaker of Iran’s parliament, Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, and the head of the judiciary, Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Eje’i.

Qalibaf, who campaigned for the Iranian presidency as early as 2005, is expected to be one of the candidates pushing hard to succeed Raisi.

Profile: Who was Ebrahim Raisi?

FILE - Iran's President-elect Ebrahim Raisi waves to participants as he leaves at the conclusion of his press conference in Tehran on June 21, 2021. President Raisi, the country's foreign minister and others have been found dead at the site of a helicopter crash Monday, May 20, 2024, after an hourslong search through a foggy, mountainous region of the country's northwest, state media reported. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi, File)

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi was a hardline cleric who rose from hardline prosecutor to uncompromising president and was tipped one day to succeed Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as the country’s Supreme Leader.

Here’s a brief rundown of his life and political career:

  • Raisi was born in 1960 to a religious family in Iran’s holy Shi’ite Muslim city of Mashhad. When he was five, he lost his father but followed him in his footsteps to become a cleric.
  • As a young student at a religious seminary in the holy city of Qom, Raisi took part in protests against the Western-backed Shah in the 1979 revolution. Later, his contacts with religious leaders in Qom made him a trusted figure in the judiciary.
  • Raisi was elected president in a closely controlled vote in 2021, in which he adopted a tough stance in nuclear negotiations.
  • His victory brought all branches of power in Iran under the control of hardliners loyal to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, thereby bolstering his chances of succeeding him.
  • Raisi has overseen a crackdown on protests at home with his hardline position evident a year into his presidency when he ordered tighter enforcement of Iran’s ‘hijab and chastity law’ restricting women’s dress and behaviour.

Iran helicopter crash: Everything we know so far

The wreckage of Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi's helicopter at the crash site on a mountain in Varzaghan area, northwestern Iran, May 20, 2024. IRIB/WANA (West Asia News Agency)/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.

If you’re just waking up, here’s everything you need to know this morning:

  • Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi has been confirmed dead after rescuers found a helicopter carrying him and other officials that crashed in the mountainous northwest reaches of Iran on Sunday
  • Raisi, 63, was among nine people to be declared dead alongside Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian
  • Rescuers fought through blizzards and difficult terrain through the night to reach the wreckage in the early hours of Monday after a search effort backed by Russia was hampered because of bad weather
  • The Iranian government held an ‘urgent meeting’ on Monday, with Raisi’s chair left vacant and covered in a black sash – state broadcasters are airing Islamic prayers in between news broadcasts
  • Mohammad Mokhber, 68, Iran’s first vice president, will assume role of interim president and has already taken calls from foreign leaders offering their condolences, state media reported

We will bring you further developments as and when we get them.

Mr Raisi was one of nine people killed when a helicopter crashed in the mountainous northwest reaches of Iran on Sunday.

The 63-year-old was travelling to the city of Tabriz, in the north-west of Iran, after he attended an opening ceremony for a new dam along the country’s border with Azerbaijan.

Good morning

TOPSHOT - (FILES) This handout picture provided by the Iranian presidency shows Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi shows him addressing and giving the annual address to the nation for Nowruz, the Persian New Year, in Tehran on March 20, 2024. Iranian media declared President Ebrahim Raisi dead on May 20, 2024 after his helicopter crashed in a mountainous northwestern region, but there has not yet been any official confirmation. (Photo by Iranian Presidency / AFP) / === RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / HO / IRANIAN PRESIDENCY" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS === (Photo by -/Iranian Presidency/AFP via Getty Images)

We will be providing live updates today following confirmation that Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi (pictured) has been killed in a helicopter crash.

Mr Raisi was on board an aircraft alongside the Iranain foreign minster Hossein Amir-Abdollahian when it crashed into a mountain range on Sunday.

We will bring you the latest news, reaction and analysis to this breaking news story.

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