Iran president helicopter in hard landing - state media

A helicopter carrying the Iranian president has been involved in an accident, state media is reporting.

State media says President Ebrahim Raisi was on board a helicopter that experienced a hard landing on Sunday.

It was also said to be carrying Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian.

The Interior Minister said rescuers were still trying to reach the site due to the difficult weather conditions.

The condition of those on board the helicopter remains unknown for now, with reports that no contact has yet been made.

According to local media, President Raisi was heading to the city of Tabriz, in the north west of Iran, after returning from the border with Azerbaijan, where he opened the Qiz Qalasi and Khodaafarin dams.

Heavy fog is making the search difficult at the site where it is thought that the helicopter may have landed, according to a reporter with Fars news agency.

He said the visibility in the mountainous and wooded area was down to only about five meters.

The area is about 50km to the north of Tabriz.

Ahmad Alirezabeigi, Iranian MP for the city of Tabriz, has told reporters in Tehran that rescue workers have yet to find the location of the helicopter carrying the president and foreign minister.

He added that the other two helicopters in the convoy landed safely.

Other officials are said to be on the missing helicopter.

Footage has emerged on state television showing worshippers praying for the president’s health in the holy city of Mashhad.

A spokesperson at the US State Department told the BBC's partner site CBS News they are closely following the reports.

Map showing parts of Iran where  President Ebrahim Raisi visited on Sunday
[BBC]

Who is Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi?

Mr Raisi, 63, was elected president on his second attempt in 2021. He is seen as a hardline cleric and regarded as a potential successor one day to Ayatollah Khamenei, the country's supreme leader since 1989.

In 2019, the Supreme Leader named him to the powerful position of head of the judiciary.

Mr Raisi was also elected as deputy chairman of the Assembly of Experts, the 88-member clerical body responsible for electing the next Supreme Leader.

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