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Iranian President Raisi seen aboard doomed helicopter in haunting photo moments before crash

Haunting images show Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi calmly sitting in his helicopter a short time before he was among those killed when it went down in a remote mountainous region.

One image shows Raisi, 63, pensively staring forward in his seat as an unidentified state official seated across from him stares out the window of the ill-fated chopper that went down Sunday afternoon.

Raisi, his foreign minister and six other passengers were found dead at the crash site around dawn Monday — some 12 hours after the chopper went down in blizzard-like conditions, officials and state media said.

Raisi (left) in the doomed helicopter. IRINN/AFP via Getty Images

Those traveling with Raisi included Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian, Friday prayer Imam Seyyed Mohammad-Ali Al-Hashem and other high-ranking state officials.

They’d been returning home in a convoy of helicopters after traveling to neighboring country Azerbajian to open a new dam.

State media initially reported the aircraft had experienced a “hard landing” and that rescue efforts were stymied due to severe wind and fog and the region’s rugged, unforgiving terrain.

Raisi (right) was in the western Iranian province of East Azerbaijan the day of the crash for a meeting with Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev. IRINN/AFP via Getty Images

Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said First Vice President Mohammad Mokhber would take over as interim president in the wake of the crash, the state’s IRNA news agency said.

“I announce five days of public mourning and offer my condolences to the dear people of Iran,” Khamenei said in a statement early Monday.

Rescue efforts continued, although night was hampering the search. via REUTERS
The last known photo of Raisi’s helicopter taking off in Azerbaijan a short time before it crashed in the mountains after encountering dense fog. IRNA/AFP via Getty Images
Rescue vehicles are seen following a crash of a helicopter carrying Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi, in Varzaqan, East Azerbaijan province, Iran, May 19, 2024. via REUTERS

An Israeli official quickly denied the country had any involvement in the crash. 

“It wasn’t us,” the official told Reuters.