Over 20 Rescue Teams, Drones, Sniffer Dogs Dispatched To Find Iranian President Raisi’s Helicopter

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The incident occurred as the president was returning from an event to inaugurate a dam with Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev.

An extensive search and rescue operation is underway after a helicopter carrying Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi was forced to make a “hard landing” in a mountainous region in northwestern Iran. 

The incident occurred on Sunday in Dizmar forest between the cities of Varzaqan and Jolfa in East Azerbaijan province.

The incident occurred as the president was returning from an event to inaugurate a dam with Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev.

According to the Iranian news agency IRNA, the helicopter’s passengers were Iran’s President Ibrahim Raisi; Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahiyan; Ayatollah Al-Hashemi, Imam of Tabriz Mosque and the representative of the Iranian supreme leader to the province, and Governor of East Azerbaijan Province Malik Rahmati.

Energy Minister Ali Akbar Mehrabian and Housing and Transportation Minister Mehrdad Bazrpash were in the other helicopters that reportedly reached their destination safely.

Local residents told IRNA’s reporter that they heard “sounds” in the region a while ago.

More than 20 fully-equipped search and rescue teams, including drones and sniffer dogs, have been dispatched to the area.

The Iranian Armed Forces have also deployed commando units and Special Forces to assist in the search operation.

Due to the rugged terrain of the region and the difficult weather conditions, particularly the thick fog in the area, the search and rescue operation could take some time, IRNA’s reporter said.

The spokesperson for Iran’s Emergency Services told IRNA that eight ambulances have been dispatched to the region, adding that heavy fog has made air rescue efforts impossible.

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Babak Yektaparast said that emergency medical teams consisting of technicians and doctors were deployed to the site immediately after the incident was reported.

He added that an emergency helicopter was also dispatched to assist but was forced to turn back due to the heavy fog, as it was unable to land in the area.

The country’s Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi earlier confirmed to the national TV that one of the helicopters of the president’s convoy had a hard landing.

“Various rescue groups are moving towards the site, but due to the fog and bad weather, it may take time to reach the area. The work is under control,” Vahidi said.

“There have been contacts with [the president’s] companions, but given that the area is mountainous and it is difficult to establish contacts, we hope that the rescue teams will reach the site of the incident sooner and give us more information,” the interior minister added.

Local Iranian media have reported that it is heavily raining in the area in Varzaghan District and it is hard for the rescue and search teams to walk in the dense fog.

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