Iranian media publishes footage of rescue teams speeding through forest in search of Raisi’s helicopter

Iran’s semi-official ISNA news agency publishes footage purporting to show rescue crews speeding through a misty, rural forest to reach the site where a helicopter carrying Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi is believed to have crashed.

Iranian state media reports that the helicopter suffered a “hard landing.”

Raisi was traveling in Iran’s East Azerbaijan province. State TV says the incident happened near Jolfa, a city on the border with Azerbaijan, some 600 kilometers (375 miles) northwest of the Iranian capital, Tehran.

Later, the TV put it farther east near the village of Uzi, but details remain contradictory.

Traveling with Raisi were Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian, the governor of Iran’s East Azerbaijan province and other officials and bodyguards, the state-run IRNA news agency reports.

One local government official uses the word “crash” to describe the incident, but he acknowledges to an Iranian newspaper that he had yet to reach the site himself.

Neither IRNA nor state TV offer any information on Raisi’s condition.

“The esteemed president and company were on their way back aboard some helicopters and one of the helicopters was forced to make a hard landing due to the bad weather and fog,” Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi says in comments aired on state TV. “Various rescue teams are on their way to the region but because of the poor weather and fogginess it might take time for them to reach the helicopter.”

He adds: “The region is a bit (rugged) and it’s difficult to make contact. We are waiting for rescue teams to reach the landing site and give us more information.”

Rescuers are attempting to reach the site, state TV says, but have been hampered by poor weather conditions. There has been heavy rain and fog reported with some wind.

IRNA calls the area a “forest” and the region is known to be mountainous as well.

Iran flies a variety of helicopters in the country, but international sanctions make it difficult to obtain parts for them. Its military air fleet also largely dates back to before the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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