Daily Express

Rescuers find body of president

- By Mark Reynolds

IRAN was in mourning yesterday after rescue teams discovered the body of President Ebrahim Raisi following a helicopter crash in foggy weather.

The wrecked chopper also contained the body of the country’s foreign minister Hossein AmirAbdoll­ahian, Iranian state television has announced.

The helicopter came down in a mountainou­s area after a trip to the Azerbaijan border region.

President Raisi, 63, was second in terms of command in Iran to Ayatollah Khamenei.

Shortly after his death was

confirmed, Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei quickly announced that Vice President Mohammad Mokhber would assume the interim role of president.

State news agencies said Mr Raisi had “accepted martyrdom” while “fulfilling his duty to the people of Iran”.

As the country struggled to come to terms with the sudden loss of the notorious hardline leader, details of what happened were starting to become more clear.

The crash appeared to have been an accident brought on by treacherou­s foggy conditions in a mountainou­s area near Varzeqan, in northweste­rn Iran.

On Sunday night, Mr Raisi had travelled to the inaugurati­on of a dam in the north west region, where he emphasised Iran’s support for the Palestinia­ns, declaring that: “Palestine is the first issue of the Muslim world.”

Hours later, during his flight home with Foreign Minister AmirAbdoll­ahian and several other senior figures, the helicopter experience­d a “hard landing” in remote and mountainou­s terrain, state media reported.

Dense fog and heavy rain hindered search efforts, but yesterday morning authoritie­s found the crash site and announced that Mr Raisi and

everyone else on board the helicopter had been killed.

There had been a large search and rescue operation to try and locate the missing aircraft on Sunday night.

Yesterday, the Iranian Red Crescent humanitari­an group confirmed the bodies of the president and others who died in the crash had been recovered and search operations had ended.

Pictures yesterday showed the wreckage and workers removing the bodies.

Meanwhile, Vladimir Putin’s propagandi­sts quickly rushed to churn out unfounded conspiracy theories blaming the West and Israel for the helicopter crash yesterday.

Russian war correspond­ent Semyon Pegov claimed there was a “London trace” to the lost helicopter. He added: “In Azerbaijan and even in the area where Raisi flew, the Israeli special services feel more than at ease. And they even publicly flaunt it.”

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 ?? ?? Grim...rescuers taking away bodies
Grim...rescuers taking away bodies
 ?? Pictures: AZIN HAGHIGHI / MOJ NEWS AGENCY/ANADOLU ?? Recovery... rescue team workers at the crash site of helicopter yesterday
Pictures: AZIN HAGHIGHI / MOJ NEWS AGENCY/ANADOLU Recovery... rescue team workers at the crash site of helicopter yesterday
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