Iranian President, Foreign Minister, and Crew Perish in Helicopter Incident

Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and other officials were confirmed dead on Monday after their helicopter crashed in a mountainous region of the country’s northwest, Iranian state media reported.

State TV said earlier on Monday that there was “no sign of life” at the crash site of the helicopter that was carrying 63-year-old Raisi, 60-year-old Abdollahian and other officials after it made a “hard landing” on Sunday.

The crash site was across a steep valley, according to state media, which gave no immediate cause for the crash.

As the sun rose on Monday, rescuers saw the helicopter from a distance of roughly 1.25 miles, head of the Iranian Red Crescent Society Pir Hossein Kolivand told state media. The officials had been missing for more than 12 hours when the helicopter was observed.

Raisi and Amir-Abdollahian were traveling in when the helicopter made what state TV described as a “hard landing” near Jolfa, a city on the border with the nation of Azerbaijan, roughly 375 miles northwest of Tehran. State TV later said it crashed further east near the village of Uzi, although details remained contradictory.

The governor of the East Azerbaijan province and other officials and bodyguards were also aboard, according to the state-run IRNA news agency. One local government official described what happened as a “crash,” while others referred to it as a “hard landing” or an “incident.”

“The esteemed president and company were on their way back aboard some helicopters and one of the helicopters was forced to make a hard landing due to the bad weather and fog,” Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi said in comments aired on state TV.

The incident comes as Iran, under Raisi and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, launched an against Israel last month.

Iran has also faced years of mass protests against its Shiite theocracy in response to a struggling economy and attacks on women’s rights.