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Anxiety grows in Iran amid search for location of president’s chopper

Search teams have yet to find the missing helicopter with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi aboard.

The chopper, which also had Hossein Amirabdollahian, foreign minister; Malek Rahmati, governor of East Azarbaijan province; and Hojjatoleslam Al Hashem, Tabriz Friday prayer leader, on board, crash-landed Sunday afternoon in the Varzaqan region.

Over 20 search and relief teams were immediately dispatched to the area to find the missing helicopter, including drones and sniffer dogs.

The Iranian armed forces have also deployed commando units and special forces to assist in the search operation. However, foggy weather and the impassability of the area have frustrated efforts.

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Babak Yektaparast, the spokesperson for Iran’s emergency services, said an emergency helicopter was dispatched to assist but was forced to turn back due to the heavy fog as it could not land in the area.

“Unfortunately, continuing aerial operations was no longer possible due to intense fog across the region,” he said, adding that more ambulances were dispatched.

Ayatollah Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, urged citizens to pray for the president and everyone aboard the chopper.

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“The Iranian nation must not be concerned or worried; there will be no disruption in the work of the country,” Khamenei said.

Iraq and Armenia, both neighbouring countries, have offered support in locating Raisi.

The US said it is watching reports and added that President Joe Biden has been briefed.

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