Iran: Dense fog hampered search for helicopter

Henry

Dense fog has complicated the search for the crash scene where Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi died.

RNews earlier reported that radio contact was lost with the helicopter on Sunday afternoon, but hundreds of search and rescue teams searched through the night before the wreckage was found shortly after sunrise on Monday.

The wreckage of the blue-and-white Bell 212 helicopter was found in East Azerbaijan province, about 3 km northeast of the small town of Tavil. There were no survivors among the nine persons on board.

The victims were Raisi, Minister of Foreign Affairs Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, a provincial governor and an imam, the helicopter’s three crew members and two bodyguards, officials said.

The remains were largely charred, but could be identified without DNA tests, an officer told the Tasnim news agency.

State media reported that the helicopter “hit a mountain and disintegrated”. Dense fog also hung in the area during the incident.

Raisi and his entourage were on their way back from the East Azerbaijan province after a dam project was launched together with the president of Azerbaijan. Rescue teams were immediately deployed in a large-scale search with personnel from the Red Crescent emergency service, the army, police and Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Countries including Turkey and Russia have deployed drones and rescue teams to assist Iran in the search.

Mohammad Bagheri, a high-level military official in Iran, meanwhile ordered that the accident be investigated.

President Cyril Ramaphosa expressed his deepest condolences to the country.