• Thursday, June 20, 2024
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Raisi’s chief of staff recounts crashed helicopter’s final moments

Iranian President
Iran’s presidential chief of staff has revealed more details about a helicopter crash which led to the martyrdom of President Ebrahim Raisi, Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian and two top local officials.

Gholamhossein Esmaili said on Monday (20) in an interview with state TV that weather conditions in Iran’s Varzaqan region, where President Raisi’s copter crashed, were perfect at the start and during most of the flight that took place a day earlier.

Esmaili was in one of the three helicopters that were returning from a dam inauguration ceremony on Iran’s border with the Republic of Azerbaijan.

He said the helicopters had taken off at around 1:00 p.m. local time on May 19 while weather conditions in the area were normal.

After 45 minutes into the flight, the pilot of President Raeisi’s helicopter who was in charge of the convoy, ordered other helicopters to increase altitude to avoid a nearby cloud.

However, the president’s helicopter, which was flying between the two others, suddenly disappeared.

“After 30 seconds of flying over the clouds, our pilot noticed that the helicopter in the middle had disappeared,” said Esmaili, adding that the pilot decided to circle and return to search for the president’s helicopter.

Esmail said that after several attempts to contact the president’s helicopter through radio devices, and while it was unable to decrease altitude because of the clouds, their helicopter continued its flight and landed at a nearby copper mine.

He said foreign minister Amirabdollahian and the head of the president’s protection unit didn’t respond to repeated calls afterwards.

The official said, however, that pilots of the two other helicopters had contacted Captain Mostafavi, who was in charge of the president’s helicopter, but the one who took the call was Tabriz Friday prayer leader Mohammad Ali Ale-Hashem, whose situation was not good but said the copter had crashed into a valley.

Esmaili himself made a second contact with Ale-Hashem and received the same answers about the situation.

“When we found the location of the accident, the conditions of the bodies indicated that Ayatollah Raeisi and other companions had died instantly but Ale-Hashem had been martyred after several hours,” he said.