Ebrahim Raisi, 63, was elected president in 2021, having had a decades-long career in the country’s judicial system under his belt Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi. © Iranian Presidency/Getty Images

Iranian state media have confirmed that President Ebrahim Raisi was killed in a helicopter crash in the country’s northwestern province of East Azerbaijan. His body was found along with those of Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and Governor of East Azerbaijan Malek Rahmati.

The head of state had traveled to the border region after joining Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev on Saturday to inaugurate a dam, political analyst Mohammad Marandi told Al Jazeera. Raisi had pledged to visit each of Iran’s 30 provinces at least once a year, and was thus regularly moving around the country.

Reports of a “crash landing” began circulating earlier on Sunday, with Iranian state media citing Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi. According to media outlet IRNA, the weather was foggy in the area where the presidential helicopter is believed to have gone down.

Low visibility and the impassibility of the area made search operations difficult, IRNA also wrote. Though rescue teams reportedly launched a search operation within an hour of the incident, adverse weather conditions hampered the process.

With Raisi’s passing, First Vice President Mohammad Mokhber is expected to take office as interim leader.

A representative of the republic’s conservative wing, Raisi, was elected back in 2021. Before assuming Iran’s top job, he had worked his way up from Prosecutor and Deputy Prosecutor in Tehran in the 1980s and 1990s all the way to Attorney General and, later, Chief Justice.