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Searches for Iran's president last 12 hours; weather makes operation difficult

The search for the president of Iran, Ebrahim Raisi, has been going on for more than 12 hours since the helicopter he was in made a forced landing and crashed in a mountainous region in northern Iran, this Sunday (19).

Authorities in the country reported through state media that they received telephone signals and from the helicopter itself that indicate the exact location of the passengers.

However, the extreme cold and fog make the rescue operation very difficult.

Rescuers face strong winds and temperatures around 10°C. However, it is difficult to obtain accurate data from the mountain region where the case occurred. According to meteorologists from CNN, temperatures can be negative.

More than 20 teams, including the Red Cross of Iran and Azerbaijan, the Iranian army, mountaineers and drones are searching the area.

Turkey said it would send helicopters with night vision to assist in the operation during the night. Russia provided more than 50 rescuers and a plane to help teams at the scene.

Iran also said it had managed to contact two people who were aboard the same aircraft as the president hours after the crash.

Three helicopters were flying the same route before two lost contact with Raisi's helicopter.

Even with communication, the real seriousness of the incident nor the health status of the passengers is still unknown.

See moments before the incident:

The country's Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian was also on board the aircraft.

Both participated in an official agenda with the president of Azerbaijan, this Sunday morning (19). Hours before the crash, Raisi inaugurated a dam project and flew over the area near the border with Azerbaijan.

After the fall, the country's state TV asked Iranians to pray for Raisi. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei tried to reassure the population afterwards and said he was praying for the safety of passengers.

Who is Ebrahim Raisi?

Born in 1960, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi began his career as a prosecutor in the early 1980s and rose from Tehran's attorney general in 1994 to the country's chief justice in 2019.

Raisi assumed the role of president on June 19, 2021, after winning a historically uncompetitive presidential election.

Many Iranians refused to participate in an election widely seen as rigged. Overall voter turnout was just 48.8% – the lowest since the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979.

The US Treasury Department sanctioned Raisi in November 2019, citing his participation in the 1988 “death commission” as a prosecutor, and a United Nations report indicating that Iran's judiciary approved the execution of at least nine children between 2018 and 2019.

*With information from CNN International and Reuters

Source: CNN Brasil

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