Iran releases report on Raisi's helicopter crash

2024-05-25 09:55:51China Daily/Xinhua Editor : Mo Honge ECNS App Download

No traces of bullets or similar items have been detected on the wreckage of the crashed helicopter that resulted in the deaths of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and his entourage, with no suspicions discovered, according to the first report released by the General Staff of Iran's Armed Forces.

Following the May 19 accident, an investigation committee composed of experts, specialists and technicians arrived at the scene the next morning, the semiofficial Tasnim News Agency reported on Friday.

The helicopter had remained on its predetermined course and had not deviated from the flight route, said the report released on Thursday.

Almost 1.5 minutes before the incident, the pilot of the crashed helicopter had contacted the other two helicopters of the president's convoy. The president's helicopter then caught fire after hitting into the mountain, the report said.

"Complications of the region, fog and low temperature" had caused search and rescue operations to continue until nightfall and then throughout the night, it said.

"At 5 am local time on Monday, with the assistance of drones, the exact location of the incident was identified," it said.

Iran's presidential chief of staff Gholamhossein Esmaili told local media they were trying to avoid clouds before the tragedy. He was on board one of the three helicopters of Raisi's delegation returning from the inauguration of Qiz Qalasi Dam, a joint Iran-Azerbaijan project.

Decades of U.S. sanctions have made it hard for Iran to obtain mechanical parts or upgrade its aircraft. Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran's former foreign minister, told Iranian state TV that U.S. sanctions on Iranian aviation were one of the main factors behind the crash.

Raisi was laid to rest on Thursday in the holy shrine of Imam Reza in his hometown, the northeastern city of Mashhad, according to the official news agency IRNA.

Mashhad's Mayor Mohammad-Reza Qalandar Sharif told IRNA that at least 3 million people from Mashhad and other cities had taken part in the funeral procession, causing the vehicle carrying the bodies of Raisi and his companions to stop briefly several times on its way through the densely packed streets leading to the holy shrine.

"Raisi was a key figure in regional and international arenas," Syrian President Bashar al-Assad told Iran's acting President Mohammad Mokhber in a phone conversation on Thursday. "Raisi stood against tyranny and always supported the Palestinian cause, which remains his legacy."

Also on board the helicopter were the country's Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and Mohammad Ali Ale-Hashem, representative of Iran's Supreme Leader to the East Azerbaijan region.

Amir-Abdollahian was laid to rest on Thursday in a ceremony south of the Iranian capital Teheran, IRNA reported.

Minute of silence

Messages of condolences poured in from across the globe.

The United Nations General Assembly on Thursday held a minute of silence during a plenary session in honor of Raisi.

Dennis Francis, president of the 78th session of the UNGA, led the tribute. The UNGA president also extended his condolences to the Iranian government and its people.

The UN Security Council observed a minute of silence for the president and his delegation, and the UN flag was lowered to half-mast as a sign of respect on Tuesday.

Li Hongzhong, vice-chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, mourned the passing of Raisi at the Iranian embassy in China on Friday.

Li, also a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, expressed deep condolences over the tragic death of Raisi to the Iranian government and people.

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