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Details on Iran’s Raisi copter crash emerge

Iran’s presidential chief of staff has revealed more details about the helicopter crash in the country over the weekend which led to the death of…

Iran’s presidential chief of staff has revealed more details about the helicopter crash in the country over the weekend which led to the death of President Ebrahim Raisi, Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian and two top local officials in the province of East Azerbaijan.

Gholamhossein Esmaili said on Monday in an interview with Iran state TV that weather conditions in Iran’s Varzaqan region, where President Raisi’s copter crashed, were perfect at the start and during most of the flight that took place a day earlier.

Esmaili was in one of the three helicopters that were returning from a dam inauguration ceremony on Iran’s border with the Republic of Azerbaijan.

He said the helicopters had taken off at around 1pm local time on May 19 while weather conditions in the area were normal.

After 45 minutes into the flight, the pilot of president Raisi’s helicopter who was in charge of the convoy, ordered other helicopters to increase altitude to avoid a nearby cloud.

However, the president’s helicopter, which was flying between the two others, suddenly disappeared.

 “After 30 seconds of flying over the clouds, our pilot noticed that the helicopter in the middle had disappeared,” Esmaili said, adding that the pilot decided to circle and return to search for the president’s helicopter.

Easmaili said that after several attempts to contact the president’s helicopter through radio devices, and while it was unable to decrease altitude because of the clouds, their helicopter continued its flight and landed at a nearby copper mine.

He said foreign minister Amirabdollahian and the head of the president’s protection unit didn’t respond to repeated calls afterwards.

The official said, however, that pilots of the two other helicopters had contacted Captain Mostafavi, who was in charge of the president’s helicopter, but the one who took the call was Tabriz Friday prayer leader Mohammad Ali Ale-Hashem, whose situation was not good but said the copter had crashed into a valley.

Esmaili himself made a second contact with Ale-Hashem and received the same answers about the situation.

 “When we found the location of the accident, the conditions of the bodies indicated that Ayatollah Raisi and other companions had died instantly but Ale-Hashem had been martyred after several hours,” he said.

Meanwhile, Iranians have gathered in Tabriz, the capital of the East Azerbaijan province, for a farewell procession for the late President Raisi.

According to Al Jazeera, funeral ceremonies for Iranian state dignitaries occur over “an extended period of time in several locations.”

After the procession in Tabriz, the bodies of Raisi, 63 and Amirabdollahian, 60, would be transferred to Tehran for another ceremony.

On Tuesday the bodies were taken to Qom, a city in central Iran of great religious significance, for another ceremony and then moved to the capital.

Today, a larger ceremony will take place in Tehran, with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei expected to lead the prayers with foreign dignitaries in attendance.

Initial media reports revealed that the late president would be interred Tuesday, however, due to a three-day burial ceremonies that started Tuesday, Raisi’s remains would now be interred tomorrow in his hometown of Mashhad – the second largest city in Iran.

 

 

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