Funerary procession to be held for late Iran president Raisi in Tabriz

“After our noon prayers, we departed towards the direction of Tabriz. The weather was clear, there was no weather condition to be worried about. After half an hour being in the air, prior to reaching the Sungun copper mine, there was a small patch of clouds; interviewer asks: “So there was no fog?” He replied, not at all. There was fog on the ground, but not in up the air where we were advancing with the helicopters.

However in one small compacted area, there was a small patch of clouds above a cliff. In terms of height, this cloud was on the same height as our flight’s height. It was there when the now-martyred helicopter pilot, who was also the commander of the fleet, that told the rest of the pilots to ascend above the clouds. We were the 3rd pilot, behind the president’s helicopter.

We came above the clouds, we advanced for approximately 30 seconds. Our pilot suddenly realised that the main helicopter carrying the president is missing. Interviewer asks: “You didn’t see the helicopter anymore after ascending?” He replied, yes exactly, after ascending above the clouds, we didn’t see the main helicopter. The ascension itself didn’t feel difficult or hard. Sometimes, when we use the plane we feel turbulence but we didn’t feel anything at all inside the helicopter this time, when ascending.

And after we ascended there were no other clouds. Interviewer asks: “So beyond this, there were no weather forecasts mentioning any disturbances in the weather to make it unsafe?” He replied, no there wasn’t any. Shortly after, we were able to see beneath us and there were no clouds anymore and we had reached the area of the copper mine. We realised however that our pilot is making an U-turn suddenly so I asked him why? He said that one of our helicopters is missing. We estimate that they made an emergency landing, because we also have no radio contact with it anymore.

So I asked him when was the last time contact was made? The pilot answered: “A minute and 30 seconds ago, when the pilot told us to ascend above the clouds.” Our pilot circled around the area a couple of times, but the area with the cloud patch was also invisible to us and it was too risky to enter that area. We failed several times to make any radio contact. We were forced to make a landing after 30 seconds at the Sungun copper mine to investigate. During the flight, we had continuous cell phone calls with the passengers, including the bodyguard, Mr. Abdollahian, the governor of East-Azerbaijan and the Friday imam of Tabriz. However we tried calling all of them without luck. After some tries, calling the cellphone of the captain accompanying the president, someone picked the phone.

It was Ayatollah Hashem, the friday imam of Tabriz. He told us that I’m not feeling well. He didn’t tell us anything special. I asked him what exactly has happened? He told us that he didn’t know what has happened, when asked on his whereabouts, he said that he didn’t know. He only described what he could see, described to us what he saw, e.g. surrounded by trees.

I asked him about the condition of the others, the Ayatollah replied that he’s alone and couldn’t see anyone else and he’s alone. The copper mine had good facilities such as ambulances and the necessary vehicles. We formed a team to go and search for them. We requested for immediate emergency help as well.”