Friday, June 21, 2024

New report discloses cleric aboard Iranian president’s helicopter survived crash

A report released by Iran's state TV on Sunday has revealed that Ayatollah Mohammad Ali Al-e-Hashem, a cleric on board the Iranian president’s doomed helicopter, had outlived the other passengers after the fatal crash.

The Iranian state TV’s channel one aired a report at 2 pm local time on Sunday, providing more details of the tragic helicopter crash that killed Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and his entourage.

The president’s convoy included three helicopters, returning from Khoda Afarin region in Iran’s northwestern province of East Azarbaijan after inaugurating a dam at the common border with the Republic of Azerbaijan. Two of the choppers carrying a number of ministers and officials had landed safely in the foggy weather.

But the third chopper crashed in mountainous forests, killing President Raisi, Foreign Minister Amirabdollahian, Friday prayers leader of Tabriz Ayatollah Mohammad Ali Al-e-Hashem, Governor of East Azarbaijan Malek Rahmati, the commander of the president’s security team, two pilots and a flight crew.

According to the video report, Al-e-Hashem was alive for hours after the crash and answered a call with the mobile phone of the chief pilot, Colonel Taher Mostafavi.

The video shows Energy Minister Ali Akbar Mehrabian talking to Al-e-Hashem after the crash and asking questions about the incident.

“Mr. Al-e-Hashem! Do you hear me? Are you fine?” the energy minister said on the phone.

After a response from the cleric, Mehrabian asked about the whereabouts of others. A few moments later, the energy minister was seen doing a facepalm gesture to express dismay at what he had heard.

“So they are not around you, are they?… Are you alone?” the energy minister asked Al-e-Hashem.

The contact raised the rescuers’ hopes of finding survivors.

After 14 hours of search involving forces on the ground and drones, the wreckage of the helicopter was found on May 20 morning, with all passengers pronounced dead.

On May 24, the General Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces issued its first report detailing the circumstances and causes surrounding the crash, saying the aircraft burst into flames upon collision with the mountainous terrain.

“Remarkably, the remaining wreckage displayed no evidence of bullet holes or similar impacts,” it added.

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