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Radio signal off or not fitted on Iran President's doomed helicopter, says Turkey


Turkish officials say a helicopter that crashed on Sunday, killing Iran’s President and foreign minister, had its transponder switched off or was not fitted with one.

Transport Minister Abdulkadir Uraloglu said on Monday that in the wake of the crash, Turkish authorities had monitored for a signal from the transponder.

“Iran is within our maritime and air search and rescue area of responsibility…at first, we followed whether the helicopter transmitted a signal or not,” he said.

“Unfortunately, [we think] it’s most likely that the signal system was turned off or that the helicopter did not have that signal system.” 

“Otherwise, our system would definitely see those signals, but they didn’t [this time].”

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and the country’s foreign minister,​​ Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, were found dead on Monday, hours after the helicopter crashed in fog on Sunday.

They were heading to the city of Tabriz after returning from a ceremony on the Azerbaijani border.

Iran has not said what caused the crash.

The country has declared five days of mourning, with the president’s funeral to be held on Wednesday.

Iran’s Cabinet issued a statement following his death, saying that “with the help of God and the people, there will be no problem with the management of the country.”

Iran’s first Vice President Mohammad Mokhber has been appointed as acting president.

A presidential election will be held on June 28.

The US State Department offered official condolences for the crash victims.

“As Iran selects a new president, we reaffirm our support for the Iranian people and their struggle for human rights and fundamental freedoms,” the Department said in a statement.

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Washington had no insight into what caused the crash.

“I don’t necessarily see any broader regional security impacts at this point in time,” he said.

Condolences poured in following the crash, with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying that his country “stands with Iran in this time of sorrow”, while Russian President Vladimir Putin described Raisi “as a true friend of Russia.”

Raisi was seen as a frontrunner to succeed Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

During his time as president, relations continued to deteriorate with the West as Iran enriched uranium closer than ever to weapons-grade levels and supplied bomb-carrying drones to Russia for its war in Ukraine.

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