Iran’s President Is Not the First Leader to Die in a Helicopter Crash

The president of Iran, Ebrahim Raisi, is but the latest leader to die in a helicopter crash. Mr. Raisi and Iran’s foreign minister, Hossein Amir Abdollahian, died on Sunday when the helicopter in which they were traveling went down in a mountainous area near the city of Jolfa in northwestern Iran.

Here is a brief look at some other prominent figures who have died in helicopter crashes:


A helicopter carrying senior Ukrainian officials including the minister for internal affairs, Denys Monastyrsky, crashed in January 2023 in a suburb of the capital, Kyiv, killing more than a dozen people including other pivotal figures in the wartime leadership.

Mr. Monastyrsky was a political ally of President Volodymyr Zelensky, and the crash, which happened near an elementary school, is believed to have been an accident.

Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, and first lady, Olena Zelenska, attending a memorial ceremony for Denys Monastyrsky, and others who died in a helicopter crash in 2023.Credit…Nacho Doce/Reuters


Last month, the chief of Kenya’s military, Gen. Francis Omondi Ogolla, died when a military helicopter in which he was traveling crashed in the west of the country. Other officials were also killed.

It was not the first such death involving a prominent Kenyan. In 2012, George Saitoti — whose posts included finance minister, education minister, acting foreign minister and vice president — died when the police helicopter he was riding in plunged into a forest west of Nairobi, Kenya’s capital.

The president of Kenya, William Ruto, at the coffin of Gen. Francis Omondi Ogolla last month.Credit…Luis Tato/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images


In 2005, a helicopter carrying John Garang, who for decades had led the country’s rebellion against the Sudanese government, died in a helicopter crash in northern Uganda. He had been flying to southern Sudan.

Mr. Garang had been installed as vice president of Sudan just weeks before, having played a pivotal role in a peace agreement that ended that country’s civil war. His swearing-in drew in excess of a million people to the streets of Khartoum, the Sudanese capital.

Mr. Garang had led a rebel group, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army, that had fought since 1983 to topple the Sudanese government. South Sudan eventually became a nation in 2011.

John Garang boarding the helicopter that would later crash, in 2005 at the Entebbe airport in Uganda.Credit…Peter Busomoke/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images


Several other prominent people have also died in helicopter crashes. These include Thai billionaire Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, owner of the English Premier League soccer club Leicester City, who was killed in 2018 in a crash outside the stadium, and Aleksandr I. Lebed, a Soviet paratroop commander who later played a crucial supporting role in the birth of Russian democracy, who died in southern Siberia in 2002.

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