Iranian TV broadcasts recording of last contact with Raisi's helicopter

Iranian TV broadcasts recording of last contact with Raisi's helicopter
The recording showed Energy Minister Ali Akbar Mehrabian trying to speak with Mohammad Ali Ale-Hashem who was killed in the helicopter crash.
2 min read
27 May, 2024
The helicopter crash which killed Raisi was blamed on bad weather [Getty]

Iranian television on Sunday broadcast what it said was the last recorded phone call to feature President Ebrahim Raisi, who died following a shock helicopter crash last week in the country’s northwest, the Arabic edition of Asharq Al-Awsat reported.

The phone call was reportedly between Energy Minister Ali Akbar Mehrabian and pilot Taher Mostafawi, who was flying the helicopter which crashed on May 19, killing everyone on board.

In the released video, Mehrabian can be seen calling the pilot and speaking with Mohammad Ali Ale-Hashem, a high-ranking official and cleric who was on board the helicopter, after a contact was established to the pilot's mobile telephone.

The footage only carried minister Mehrabian's side of the conversation, with no audio of Ale-Hashem, who was Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s representative in the East Azerbaijan province

In the conversation, Mehrabian can be heard saying: "Do you hear my voice? Are you okay? Where are the rest of you? Are you alone?"

Ale-Hashem was also killed in the incident.

A news report on the helicopter crash broadcast on Iranian channel Network One TV said weather conditions remained "relatively stable at departure time... cloudy with so signs of rain", when asked why the trip went ahead despite bad conditions.

Tracking the phone signal proved to be challenging due to technical problems, and contact was lost three hours into the crash.

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Raisi, Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, and East Azerbaijan's Governor-General Malek Rahmati were also among those killed in the crash.

The helicopter was headed to Tabriz after Raisi attended a ceremony on the border with Azerbaijan.

A total of eight people, including other security officials and crew members, were killed. Adverse weather conditions – particularly heavy fog, and the high density of trees were considered as causes of the crash, with foul play ruled out.

However, the helicopter Raisi was travelling in was an antiquated US-made Bell 212 from the 1970s. Iran has not been able to replace its fleet of helicopters and planes due to US sanctions.

Five days of national mourning were declared soon after, with several processions and funerals held for Raisi, who was elected amid a historically low voter-turnout in the 2021 presidential elections.

Raisi is the second Iranian president to die in office. Mohammad-Ali Rajaie was the first, after being killed in a bombing in 1981.