Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, and several other officials perished in a helicopter crash in mountainous terrain near the Azerbaijan border, as confirmed by officials and state media on Monday (May 20).

"With deep sorrow and regret, I have received the bitter news of the martyrdom of the people’s president, the competent, hard-working Haj Sayyid Ebrahim Raisi, and his esteemed entourage," stated Iran Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Twitter. "For him, the well-being and satisfaction of the people, which was a sign of God’s satisfaction, took precedence over everything else, and the hurt he suffered due to the ingratitude and taunts of some ill-wishers didn’t deter him from his continuous efforts for progress and improvement."

Khamenei also revealed that Iran's first vice-president, Mohammad Mokhber, will take over leadership and "is obliged to cooperate with the heads of the legislative and judiciary branches in facilitating the election of a new president within a maximum of 50 days." He closed by declaring five days of public mourning for the country.

While Raisi's death is not expected to significantly alter Iran's domestic or foreign policies, the tragedy occurred amid heightened international tensions and prompted speculation about Khamenei's next-in-line. As reported by Reuters, Raisi had been considered a potential successor to the 85-year-old leader.

Raisi, 63, and Amir-Abdollahian, 60, were part of a three-helicopter convoy traveling to the city of Tabriz after visiting a dam project near the Azerbaijan border. The helicopter crashed in heavy fog in a remote area on Sunday (May 19). According to USA Today, the officials were missing for over 12 hours, with search efforts hampered by “fog, blizzard conditions, and difficult terrain.”

Nations around the world have since shared statements regarding Iran's loss, including Russia, China, France, India, and Turkey. European Union Council President Charles Michel wrote on Twitter, "The EU expresses its sincere condolences for the death of President Raisi and Foreign Minister [Amir-Abdollahian], as well as other members of their delegation and crew in a helicopter accident. Our thoughts go to the families." The United States hadn't yet reacted to the news at the time of this article.