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President Raisi dead after helicopter crash

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

Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian was also killed in Sunday’s crash, along with several others

Earlier rescuers who reached the crash site in north-western Iran said there was “no sign of life” there

The helicopter – one of three travelling in a convoy – crashed after it got into difficulties in heavy fog in the north of the country

Raisi was heading to the city of Tabriz, in the north west of Iran, after returning from an Iran-Azerbaijan border area, according to local media

The incident sparked a massive search operation that was hampered by bad weather conditions

President Ebrahim Raisi, 63, who became president in 2021, ordered a tightening of morality laws and oversaw a bloody crackdown on anti-government protests, our colleague Dominic Evans reports.

He also pushed hard in nuclear talks with world powers.

A year after his election,he ordered tighter enforcement of Iran’s “hijab and chastity law” restricting women’s dress and behaviour.

Raisi had full backing for the nuclear stance and the security crackdown from his patron, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Within weeks, a young Kurdish Iranian woman, Mahsa Amini, died in custody after being arrested by morality police for allegedly violating that law.

The resulting months of nationwide protests presented one of the gravest challenges to Iran’s clerical rulers since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Hundreds of people were killed, according to rights groups, including dozens of security personnel who were part of a fierce crackdown on the demonstrators. “Acts of chaos are unacceptable,” the president insisted.

The helicopter was found in a remote area

Search teams located the wreckage in East Azerbaijan province.

Rescue teams fought blizzards and difficult terrain through the night to reach the wreckage in the early hours of Monday.

An Iranian official told Reuters the helicopter carrying President Ebrahim Raisi and Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian was completely burned in Sunday’s crash.

“President Raisi, the foreign minister and all the passengers in the helicopter were killed in the crash,” the senior Iranian official told Reuters, asking not to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter.

State TV reported that images from the site showed the aircraft slammed into a mountain peak, although there was no official word on the cause of the crash.

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