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Raisi helicopter probe raises more questions – Iran

Multiple causes of the fatal crash have been ruled out by investigators

Iranian investigators have yet to establish what caused the helicopter crash that killed President Ebrahim Raisi, but have ruled out sabotage, the state broadcaster IRIB reported on Wednesday.

The US-made Bell 212 helicopter that carried Raisi and Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian crashed on May 19 in the Iranian province of East Azerbaijan, killing everyone on board. The General Staff of the Iranian military has been tasked with investigating the cause.

“An explosion that might have occurred as a result of sabotage during the flight, or a few seconds before the collision with the slope of the hill has been ruled out,” said the statement issued by the General Staff, as reported by IRIB.

After examining the documents and records related to the presidential aircraft, “no defects that could have affected the accident were found in terms of repairs and maintenance,” the military added. Likewise, the weight of the helicopter at takeoff was “within the permitted limit.”

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Search and rescue teams at the site of the fatal presidential helicopter crash, Iran, May 20, 2024.
Iran’s military reveals new details of Raisi crash

The presidential helicopter had last communicated with the other two aircraft in the group 69 seconds before the fatal crash, and had not sent out an emergency signal, according to the report. A problem with the radios has also been ruled out, as the two remaining helicopters continued to communicate, while “no traces of electronic warfare” were detected among the remains of the presidential aircraft.

The cause of the incident has not yet been established, according to the General Staff. However, their report noted that weather conditions along the return route “need to be investigated further,” given the latest documents and the statements of pilots and passengers from the surviving helicopters. 

Raisi was buried last Wednesday in his hometown of Mahshad. The government in Tehran announced that the election for his successor will be held on June 28. In the meantime, Vice President Mohammad Mokhber has taken over as acting president, with the blessing of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Candidate registration will begin on May 30 and run through June 3. Those seeking the office will reportedly be vetted by the Guardian Council, a 12-member body of clerics and jurists that administers elections. The campaign is scheduled to run from June 12 to June 27.

May 29, 2024 at 11:48PM

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