20/05/2024 12:14 AM

KUALA LUMPUR, May 19 (Bernama) -- An extensive search and rescue operation is underway after a helicopter carrying Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi was forced to make a "hard landing" in a mountainous region in northwestern Iran. 

According to the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA), the incident occurred on Sunday in the Dizmar forest between the cities of Varzaqan and Jolfa in East Azerbaijan province as Raisi was returning from an event to inaugurate a dam with Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev.

Local residents reported hearing "sounds" in the region a short while ago, according to IRNA's correspondent.

“More than twenty fully-equipped search and rescue teams, including drones and sniffer dogs, have been dispatched to the area. The Iranian Armed Forces have also deployed commando units and Special Forces to assist in the search operation,” the agency posted on X.

The search and rescue operation is expected to be challenging and could take some time due to the rugged terrain of the region and difficult weather conditions, particularly the thick fog in the area, it said.

A spokesperson for Iran's Emergency Services, Babak Yektaparast, told IRNA that eight ambulances with emergency medical teams consisting technicians and doctors have been dispatched to the region. 

He added that an emergency helicopter dispatched to assist had to turn back due to the heavy fog, making it unable to land in the area. 

Earlier, IRNA reported that Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi informed Iran’s state television that the search and rescue team's arrival at the crash site might be delayed due to the severe weather conditions.

He expressed hope that the team will reach the site soon and convey more information.


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