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Iran President dies in chopper crash, Vice President to assume interim duties: Khamenei

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei (Photo: Reuters)

Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei on Monday tasked Vice President Mohammad Mokhber to assume interim duties after President Ebrahim Raisi was confirmed to have died in the helicopter crash, a day before.

Iranian State media earlier today confirmed the deaths of the 63-year-old Raisi, his foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and seven others in Sunday’s helicopter crash in the mountainous region of the country’s East Azerbaijan province a day earlier.

Meanwhile, the Iranian cabinet has appointed Deputy Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri Kani as acting foreign minister following the death of Hossein Amir-Abdollahian.

Khamenei, in a message issued on Monday morning, expressed his great sadness over the deaths and offered condolences to people of his country.

Vice President Mohammad Mokhber is expected to assume interim duties shortly.

“In accordance with Article 131 of the constitution, Mokhber is in charge of leading the executive branch,” Khamenei said in a statement. He added that Mokhber will be required to work with the heads of legislative and judicial to prepare for presidential elections “within a maximum period of 50 days,” he said.

Earlier today, Iranian state media IRNA shared drone footage shot by the the Red Crescent showing the wreckage of the crashed helicopter.

News outlet Tasnim, which is affiliated to the country’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps reported that Raisi’s funeral will be held tomorrow in Tabriz.

Kani has served as deputy foreign minister since September 2021, reported Al Jazeera.

Moreover, he was deputy secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council between 2007 and 2013, Al Jazeera reported.

The helicopter carrying Raisi, Foreign Minister Amir-Abdollahian, and his accompanying delegation crashed a day ago in the Dizmar forest, nestled between the cities of Varzaqan and Jolfa in East Azarbaijan Province, state media Press TV reported today.

The Iranian President was returning following a visit to Azerbaijan when his helicopter came down in bad weather conditions.

Iran’s Supreme Leader described Raisi as a hard-working cleric and a popular president who dedicated his life to serving the people of Iran, the country, and Islam, according to IRNA.

“In this bitter tragedy, the Iranian nation lost a warm-hearted, humble, and valued servant,” Khamenei said, adding that President Raisi never stopped his hard and round-the-clock work for the people of Iran despite being faced with criticism from ill-wishers.

Moreover, the Iranian Supreme Leader also expressed sadness over the deaths of other senior officials who were with President Raisi in the helicopter crash in East Azerbaijan, including Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian, the Tabriz Friday prayer leader, and the provincial governor.