Raisi's Death: Photo Essay

On May 19, 2024, President Ebrahim Raisi inaugurated a dam on the border with Azerbaijan with his counterpart Ilham Aliyev. On the way back to the Iranian city of Tabriz, about 80 miles to the south, his helicopter crashed in a mountainous region of East Azerbaijan province. Raisi, Foreign Minister Hossein-Amir Abdollahian and six other passengers and crew died. Bad weather, including dense fog, may have been the cause although other helicopters in the convoy made it to their destination. The following is a photo essay of the crash and aftermath. 

On May 19, Presidents Raisi and Aliyev inaugurated Qiz Qalasi dam located on the border of Iran and Azerbaijan. 


Raisi was flying in a Bell 212 helicopter, a model developed in the 1960s by an American company. It was manufactured until 1998 and is still used by countries around the world. The helicopter’s registration number suggested that it may have been delivered to Iran in 1994.   


State television broadcast images of the helicopter wreckage, which was found on May 20 with the help of a Turkish drone.


Arash Khamooshi/The New York Times

On May 20, thousands of mourners gathered in Valiasr Square in Tehran. Many carried posters with Raisi’s image.


At night, images of Raisi and Amir-Abdollahian were projected onto Azadi Tower, an iconic monument built in 1971, in Tehran.


On May 21, thousands of people gathered in the northwestern city of Tabriz to follow a truck carrying the coffins of Raisi and the others. “We, the members of the government, who had the honor to serve this beloved president, the hardworking president, pledge to our dear people and leader to follow the path of these martyrs,” Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi said.


Raisi's remains were then flown to the holy city of Qom. On May 21, an honor guard received the coffins at Tehran’s Mehrabad International Airport.


On May 22, tens of thousands participated in the funeral at Tehran University. The government had sent out mass text messages with information about the event to ensure a strong turnout. Some citizens traveled for hours to attend. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei led prayers before the caskets. “Oh Allah, we didn’t see anything but good from him.”


Foreign officials and diplomats paid their respects at a different hall.


Many men crowded around the caskets to touch them and pay their respects. Mohammad Mokhber, the interim president, cried during the service.


A man held up a poster showing the late General Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the elite Qods Force who was killed in a U.S. drone strike in 2020, embracing Raisi in heaven.


A man wept while carrying a poster of Raisi.


Raisi's body was then taken to Birjand, a city in South Khorasan along the border with Afghanistan. Raisi had represented the city in the Assembly of Experts. The casket was then taken to Raisi's hometown of Mashhad via airplane for burial in the holy shrine of Imam Reza.


A young woman in Mashhad carried a small poster of Raisi. 


Thousands of people participated in the mourning procession in Mashhad. 


Photo Credits: Khamenei via Khamenei.ir; Raisi via President.ir; Helicopter via Tasnim News Agency; Azadi monument via IRNA; Tariz procession via President.ir