Updated May 19, 2024 at 11:25 PM ET

Iranian state media reported Monday that rescuers have located the helicopter carrying President Ebrahim Raisi and other top officials, with Iranian state television saying there is "no sign of life" seen at the crash site.

The state-run IRNA media outlet reported that the president of the Iranian Red Crescent Society confirmed that rescue and search teams have identified Raisi's crashed helicopter. The aircraft carrying Raisi, Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian and other senior officials went down in a mountainous part of northwestern Iran as they returned from an event along Iran's border with Azerbaijan.

On Sunday, Iran's Interior Minister, Ahmad Vahidi, confirmed the "hard landing" of the president's helicopter and said the search-and-rescue operation is underway, according to IRNA.

"Various rescue groups are moving towards the site, but due to the fog and bad weather, it may take time to reach the area. The work is under control," Vahidi said.

"There have been contacts with [the president's] companions, but given that the area is mountainous and it is difficult to establish contacts, we hope that the rescue teams will reach the site of the incident sooner and give us more information," he added.

IRNA reported that two passengers on the flight had communicated with rescue workers.

Intense search for the helicopter

Twenty rescue teams, including drones and dogs, had been sent to the scene, and the Iranian military had also deployed troops to assist in the rescue effort, IRNA added.

The Fars News Agency posted what it said was video footage of rescue teams that had been dispatched to the area of the helicopter's "hard landing."

Earlier in the day, the Iranian government's X account posted an image of Raisi seated next to Azerbaijan's president, Ilham Aliyev, at the opening of a dam along the border between the two countries.

A post on Raisi's Instagram page asked supporters to pray for his health and that of his fellow passengers.

Iran's supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, said in a post on X: "We hope Almighty God will return the respected, esteemed President and his entourage to the arms of the nation."

Khamenei added that the government would continue functioning amid the ongoing situation.

Raisi was elected in 2021 and is a relative hard-liner

A former cleric and judge, Raisi was elected president in 2021.

When he came into office, Raisi said Iran would continue to honor its nuclear deal with the U.S., despite former President Donald Trump's decision to pull out of the agreement in 2018.

Still, Raisi has been viewed as more of a hard-liner than his predecessor, former Iranian president Hassan Rouhani.

Last month, Raisi celebrated Iran's attack on Israel following an airstrike in Damascus that killed seven members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Iran blamed Israel for the bombing, but Israel never claimed responsibility. Israel said it intercepted 99% of the missiles and drones Iran fired during its retaliatory strike.

Iran's president is the head of its government, but the country is ruled by Khamenei, its supreme leader.

Iran's supreme leader sets national policies and supervises their implementation and also controls the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and police force, according to the Council on Foreign Relations.

Iran's constitution dictates that if the president dies while in office, the first vice president takes over with the approval of the country's supreme leader, Reuters reported. A new election must then be held within 50 days.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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