TEHRAN: Iran’s army has so far found no evidence of suspicious activity in a helicopter crash that killed the country’s president Ebrahim Raisi and seven others, state media reported.

President Raisi, 63, along with his entourage died on Sunday after his helicopter went down in the country’s mountainous northwest while returning from a dam inauguration on the border with Azerbaijan.

“No bullet holes or similar impacts were observed on the helicopter wreckage,” said a preliminary report by the general staff of the armed forces published by the official IRNA news agency late on Thursday evening.

“The helicopter caught fire after hitting an elevated area,” it said, adding that “no suspicious content was observed during the communications between the watch tower and the flight crew”.

Raisi’s helicopter had been flying on a “pre-planned route and did not leave the designated flight path” before the crash.

The report said the wreckage of the helicopter had been found by Iranian drones early on Monday but the “complexity of the area, fog and low temperature” hindered the work of search and rescue teams.

The army said “more time is needed” to investigate the crash and that it would announce more details later.

Raisi was laid to rest in his hometown of Mashhad on Thursday, concluding days of funeral ceremonies in major cities of Iran, including the capital, attended by throngs of mourners.

Among the people killed in the incident was Foreign Min­ister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian who was also buried on Thursday, in the town of Shahre Ray, south of Tehran.

Published in Dawn, May 25th, 2024

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