A helicopter carrying Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, the nation’s overseas minister and different officers apparently crashed within the mountainous northwest reaches of Iran on Sunday, sparking an enormous rescue operation in a fog-shrouded forest as the general public was urged to hope.The probably crash got here as Iran beneath Raisi and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei launched an unprecedented drone-and-missile assault on Israel final month and has enriched uranium nearer than ever to weapons-grade ranges.Iran has additionally confronted years of mass protests towards its Shiite theocracy over an ailing financial system and girls’s rights — making the second that rather more delicate for Tehran and the way forward for the nation because the Israel-Hamas struggle inflames the broader Middle East.Raisi was touring in Iran’s East Azerbaijan province. State TV mentioned what it referred to as a “exhausting touchdown” occurred close to Jolfa, a metropolis on the border with the nation of Azerbaijan, some 600 kilometers (375 miles) northwest of the Iranian capital, Tehran. Later, state TV put it farther east close to the village of Uzi, however particulars remained contradictory.Traveling with Raisi had been Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian, the governor of Iran’s East Azerbaijan province and different officers and bodyguards, the state-run IRNA information company reported. One native authorities official used the phrase “crash,” however others referred to both a “exhausting touchdown” or an “incident.”Neither IRNA nor state TV supplied any data on Raisi’s situation within the hours afterward. However, hard-liners urged the general public to hope for him. State TV later aired pictures of the devoted praying at Imam Reza Shrine within the metropolis of Mashhad, one among Shiite Islam’s holiest websites, in addition to in Qom and different places throughout the nation. State tv’s most important channel aired the prayers nonstop.”The esteemed president and firm had been on their means again aboard some helicopters and one of many helicopters was pressured to make a tough touchdown as a result of unhealthy climate and fog,” Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi mentioned in feedback aired on state TV. “Various rescue groups are on their technique to the area however due to the poor climate and fogginess it would take time for them to succeed in the helicopter.”IRNA referred to as the world a “forest” and the area is understood to be mountainous as properly. State TV aired pictures of SUVs racing by means of a wooded space and mentioned they had been being hampered by poor climate situations, together with heavy rain and wind.A rescue helicopter tried to succeed in the world the place authorities imagine Raisi’s helicopter was, but it surely could not land as a consequence of heavy mist, emergency providers spokesman Babak Yektaparast informed IRNA.Long after the solar set, Iranian authorities spokesman Ali Bahadori Jahromi acknowledged that “we’re experiencing tough and complex situations” within the search.”It is the precise of the folks and the media to pay attention to the newest information concerning the president’s helicopter accident, however contemplating the coordinates of the incident website and the climate situations, there’s ‘no’ new information in any way till now,” he wrote on the social platform X. “In these moments, persistence, prayer and belief in aid teams are the best way ahead.”Khamenei himself additionally urged the general public to hope.”We hope that God the Almighty returns the pricey president and his colleagues in full well being to the arms of the nation,” Khamenei mentioned, drawing an “amen” from the viewers he was addressing.Raisi, 63, a hard-liner who previously led the nation’s judiciary, is considered as a protégé of Khamenei and a few analysts have urged he may change the 85-year-old chief after Khamenei’s demise or resignation from the function.Raisi had been on the border with Azerbaijan early Sunday to inaugurate a dam with Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev. The dam is the third one which the 2 nations constructed on the Aras River. The go to got here regardless of chilly relations between the 2 nations, together with over a gun assault on Azerbaijan’s Embassy in Tehran in 2023, and Azerbaijan’s diplomatic relations with Israel, which Iran’s Shiite theocracy views as its most important enemy within the area.Iran flies quite a lot of helicopters within the nation, however worldwide sanctions make it tough to acquire elements for them. Its navy air fleet additionally largely dates again to earlier than the 1979 Islamic Revolution. IRNA revealed pictures it described as Raisi taking off in what resembled a Bell helicopter, with a blue-and-white paint scheme beforehand seen in revealed images.Raisi received Iran’s 2021 presidential election, a vote that noticed the bottom turnout within the Islamic Republic’s historical past. Raisi is sanctioned by the U.S. partly over his involvement within the mass execution of hundreds of political prisoners in 1988 on the finish of the bloody Iran-Iraq struggle.Under Raisi, Iran now enriches uranium at practically weapons-grade ranges and hampers worldwide inspections. Iran has armed Russia in its struggle on Ukraine, in addition to launched an enormous drone-and-missile assault on Israel amid its struggle towards Hamas within the Gaza Strip. It additionally has continued arming proxy teams within the Mideast, like Yemen’s Houthi rebels and Lebanon’s Hezbollah.Meanwhile, mass protests within the nation have raged for years. The most up-to-date concerned the 2022 demise of Mahsa Amini, a lady who had been earlier detained over allegedly not sporting a hijab, or headband, to the liking of authorities. The monthslong safety crackdown that adopted the demonstrations killed greater than 500 folks and noticed over 22,000 detained.In March, a United Nations investigative panel discovered that Iran was accountable for the “bodily violence” that led to Amini’s demise.President Joe Biden was briefed by aides on the Iran crash, however administration officers haven’t discovered way more than what’s being reported publicly by Iran state media, mentioned a senior administration official, who was not licensed to remark publicly and spoke on situation of anonymity.___Associated Press writers Nasser Karimi in Tehran, Iran, and Aamer Madhani in Washington contributed to this report.

A helicopter carrying Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, the nation’s overseas minister and different officers apparently crashed within the mountainous northwest reaches of Iran on Sunday, sparking an enormous rescue operation in a fog-shrouded forest as the general public was urged to hope.

The probably crash got here as Iran beneath Raisi and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei launched an unprecedented drone-and-missile assault on Israel final month and has enriched uranium nearer than ever to weapons-grade ranges.

Iran has additionally confronted years of mass protests towards its Shiite theocracy over an ailing financial system and girls’s rights — making the second that rather more delicate for Tehran and the way forward for the nation because the Israel-Hamas struggle inflames the broader Middle East.

Raisi was touring in Iran’s East Azerbaijan province. State TV mentioned what it referred to as a “exhausting touchdown” occurred close to Jolfa, a metropolis on the border with the nation of Azerbaijan, some 600 kilometers (375 miles) northwest of the Iranian capital, Tehran. Later, state TV put it farther east close to the village of Uzi, however particulars remained contradictory.

Traveling with Raisi had been Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian, the governor of Iran’s East Azerbaijan province and different officers and bodyguards, the state-run IRNA information company reported. One native authorities official used the phrase “crash,” however others referred to both a “exhausting touchdown” or an “incident.”

Neither IRNA nor state TV supplied any data on Raisi’s situation within the hours afterward. However, hard-liners urged the general public to hope for him. State TV later aired pictures of the devoted praying at Imam Reza Shrine within the metropolis of Mashhad, one among Shiite Islam’s holiest websites, in addition to in Qom and different places throughout the nation. State tv’s most important channel aired the prayers nonstop.

“The esteemed president and firm had been on their means again aboard some helicopters and one of many helicopters was pressured to make a tough touchdown as a result of unhealthy climate and fog,” Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi mentioned in feedback aired on state TV. “Various rescue groups are on their technique to the area however due to the poor climate and fogginess it would take time for them to succeed in the helicopter.”

IRNA referred to as the world a “forest” and the area is understood to be mountainous as properly. State TV aired pictures of SUVs racing by means of a wooded space and mentioned they had been being hampered by poor climate situations, together with heavy rain and wind.

A rescue helicopter tried to succeed in the world the place authorities imagine Raisi’s helicopter was, but it surely could not land as a consequence of heavy mist, emergency providers spokesman Babak Yektaparast informed IRNA.

Long after the solar set, Iranian authorities spokesman Ali Bahadori Jahromi acknowledged that “we’re experiencing tough and complex situations” within the search.

“It is the precise of the folks and the media to pay attention to the newest information concerning the president’s helicopter accident, however contemplating the coordinates of the incident website and the climate situations, there’s ‘no’ new information in any way till now,” he wrote on the social platform X. “In these moments, persistence, prayer and belief in aid teams are the best way ahead.”

Khamenei himself additionally urged the general public to hope.

“We hope that God the Almighty returns the pricey president and his colleagues in full well being to the arms of the nation,” Khamenei mentioned, drawing an “amen” from the viewers he was addressing.

Raisi, 63, a hard-liner who previously led the nation’s judiciary, is considered as a protégé of Khamenei and a few analysts have urged he may change the 85-year-old chief after Khamenei’s demise or resignation from the function.

Raisi had been on the border with Azerbaijan early Sunday to inaugurate a dam with Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev. The dam is the third one which the 2 nations constructed on the Aras River. The go to got here regardless of chilly relations between the 2 nations, together with over a gun assault on Azerbaijan’s Embassy in Tehran in 2023, and Azerbaijan’s diplomatic relations with Israel, which Iran’s Shiite theocracy views as its most important enemy within the area.

Iran flies quite a lot of helicopters within the nation, however worldwide sanctions make it tough to acquire elements for them. Its navy air fleet additionally largely dates again to earlier than the 1979 Islamic Revolution. IRNA revealed pictures it described as Raisi taking off in what resembled a Bell helicopter, with a blue-and-white paint scheme beforehand seen in revealed images.

Raisi received Iran’s 2021 presidential election, a vote that noticed the bottom turnout within the Islamic Republic’s historical past. Raisi is sanctioned by the U.S. partly over his involvement within the mass execution of hundreds of political prisoners in 1988 on the finish of the bloody Iran-Iraq struggle.

Under Raisi, Iran now enriches uranium at practically weapons-grade ranges and hampers worldwide inspections. Iran has armed Russia in its struggle on Ukraine, in addition to launched an enormous drone-and-missile assault on Israel amid its struggle towards Hamas within the Gaza Strip. It additionally has continued arming proxy teams within the Mideast, like Yemen’s Houthi rebels and Lebanon’s Hezbollah.

Meanwhile, mass protests within the nation have raged for years. The most up-to-date concerned the 2022 demise of Mahsa Amini, a lady who had been earlier detained over allegedly not sporting a hijab, or headband, to the liking of authorities. The monthslong safety crackdown that adopted the demonstrations killed greater than 500 folks and noticed over 22,000 detained.

In March, a United Nations investigative panel discovered that Iran was accountable for the “bodily violence” that led to Amini’s demise.

President Joe Biden was briefed by aides on the Iran crash, however administration officers haven’t discovered way more than what’s being reported publicly by Iran state media, mentioned a senior administration official, who was not licensed to remark publicly and spoke on situation of anonymity.

___

Associated Press writers Nasser Karimi in Tehran, Iran, and Aamer Madhani in Washington contributed to this report.