Iranian Prez killed in chopper crash, PM Modi hails contributions to bilateral ties | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Iranian Prez killed in chopper crash, PM Modi hails contributions to bilateral ties

May 20, 2024 06:10 PM IST

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was among the world leaders who expressed sorrow at the death of Raisi and hailed his efforts to strengthen relations with India

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian were killed in a helicopter crash in the country’s mountainous northwest, Iranian officials said on Monday, creating a vacuum in the leadership in Tehran amid heightened tensions in West Asia.

The helicopter crashed in Iran’s East Azerbaijan province in thick fog on Sunday. (Reuters photo)
The helicopter crashed in Iran’s East Azerbaijan province in thick fog on Sunday. (Reuters photo)

The helicopter crashed in Iran’s East Azerbaijan province in thick fog on Sunday, while Raisi, 63, was travelling after inaugurating the Qiz Qalasi dam on the Aras river with his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev. Many rescue teams struggled for hours to locate the crash site in poor weather.

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Also Read:Ebrahim Raisi dead: Who will be next Iran president? What does the Constitution say?

A drone provided by Turkey finally located the crash site on Monday and state-run media reported there were no signs of survivors when rescuers reached the location.

“President Raisi, along with Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, East Azarbaijan Gov. Malek Rahmati, East Azarbaijan Imam of Friday Prayer Mohammad Ali Ale-Hashem, & several other passengers, has been martyred in a helicopter crash in northwest of Iran,” Iranian ambassador Iraj Elahi said in a post on X.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was among the world leaders who expressed sorrow at the death of Raisi and hailed his efforts to strengthen relations with India.

“Deeply saddened and shocked by the tragic demise of Dr Seyed Ebrahim Raisi, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran. His contribution to strengthening India-Iran bilateral relationship will always be remembered. My heartfelt condolences to his family and the people of Iran. India stands with Iran in this time of sorrow,” Modi said in a post on X.

The Indian government also declared one day’s ‘State mourning’ on Tuesday as a mark of respect to the “departed souls”. “On the day of mourning, the national flag will be flown at half-mast throughout India on all buildings where the national flag is flown regularly and there will be no official entertainment on the day,” the Union ministry of home affairs (MHA) said in a press release on Monday.

External affairs minister S Jaishankar, who was the first foreign leader to meet Raisi after his election in July 2021, and before he was sworn in, recalled his meetings with the Iranian leader in a post on X.

“Deeply shocked to hear of the passing away of Iran’s President Dr Ebrahim Raisi and Foreign Minister H. Amir-Abdollahian in the helicopter crash. Recall my many meetings with them, most recently in January 2024. Our condolences to their families. We stand with the people of Iran at time of this tragedy,” Jaishankar posted.

Raisi was elected to the post of president in 2021 with the backing of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei after a long career in the country’s hardline judiciary. During his tenure, he oversaw Tehran’s response to widespread anti-government protests following the death in police custody of the Iranian Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini in September 2022 and, more recent, the first direct attack by Iran on Israel.

Under Iran’s Constitution, the first vice president will take over in the case of the death of the president, and an election to choose a new president will have to be held in 50 days. The current first vice president, Mohammad Mokhber, is now expected to take over the post.

However, even before the crash site was located, Khamenei said in a televised address that there will be “no disruptions” in the business of the government.

Raisi, during his meetings with Indian leaders and officials, had emphasised the need to step up work to develop Chabahar port. An Indian state-run firm operates the Shahid Beheshti terminal at Chabahar port and India and Iran signed a 10-year agreement for Indian operations at the port on May 13.

India and Iran have also held consultations on several occasions in recent years on the situation in Afghanistan following the Taliban takeover in August 2021.

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