Search Underway For Helicopter Carrying Iran’s President Raisi Reportedly Crashed In Northwestern Iran

Raisi helicopter
The main image and the top right insets show what is believed to be the Bell 212 Iran's President was flying. In the left box, a file image, also circulated online, showing Raisi disembarking an Mi-8/17 helicopter. (Image credit: The Aviationist, using FARS, IRNA, TASNIM images)

A helicopter carrying President Ebrahim Raisi has had an accident, state media reports. Here’s what we know.

A helicopter carrying Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi has had to make what the state media refers to as a “hard landing”. According to the reports President Raisi was en route to Tabriz, in northwestern Iran, after visiting the Iran-Azerbaijan border where he had just inaugurated the Qiz Qalasi and Khodaafarin dams with Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev.

The helicopter was part of a three-helicopter convoy. Despite the reported foggy weather, the other two helicopters landed safely. The status of the third helicopter, the one carrying Raisi, is unclear.

The first photos circulated online showed Raisi disembarking from an Mi-17/171 helicopter.

However, those were file photo as it looks like the Iranian President was flying aboard a Bell 212. IRNA news agency shared an image allegedly showing the last take off before the accident.

The Bell 212, in question is reportedly a former Iranian Air Force helicopter that was converted three years ago to be used by the Iranian government.

As explained, Iranian state media referred to the incident as a “hard landing,” a term often used by Russian MOD to describe aircraft incidents. This term is used to avoid causing panic. Other examples of this include referring to an explosion as a “bang” and the death of a soldier as “an unidentified absence from a military unit.”

Visibility in the vicinity of the crash/hard landing site mountainous and wooded area, approximately 50 km north of Tabriz, is severely limited, down to about five meters, as reported by a Fars news agency. Heavy rain is also reported in the area. This is causing issues to the rescuers that are operating in poor weather conditions (and in darkness).

Speaking on Iranian state television, Interior Ministry Ahmad Vahidi said it will take time to reach the crash site due to adverse weather conditions.

We will update the report as new details emerge.

About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.