No sign of life at Iran president's helicopter crash site; PM Modi says he is ‘deeply concerned’

News Network
May 20, 2024

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Iran's state media today said that there was "no sign" of life among passengers of the helicopter which was carrying President Ebrahim Raisi, Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, and other officials.

Here are 10 points on this tragedy

1.    "Upon finding the helicopter, there was no sign of the helicopter passengers being alive as of yet," state TV reported. The incident occurred during President Raisi's return flight to the Iranian city Tabriz after he and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev inaugurated the Qiz Qalasi Dam on their shared border. 

2.    The helicopter, carrying President Raisi, Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, and other officials, lost contact approximately 30 minutes into the flight. This sparked immediate concerns and a massive search and rescue operation.

3.    Initial reports from Iran's state media described the situation as an "accident." Iran's Deputy President for Executive Affairs Mohsen Mansouri said that two members of the president's entourage had contacted rescue teams, suggesting that the incident might not have been catastrophic. Mansouri added that the Ministry of Communications had managed to narrow down the potential crash site to within a two-kilometre radius.

4.    Iranian state media reported that Deputy Foreign Minister for Economic Diplomacy Mehdi Safari claimed that the Tabriz Friday prayer leader had managed to speak with President Raisi, 63, via phone from the downed helicopter. "Mehdi Safari, who was present in one of the three helicopters carrying President Raisi's entourage, said the Tabriz Friday prayer leader had made a phone call to the president from inside the crashed copter," the report reads. 

5.    Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei urged calm and assured that there would be no disruption in the country's governance. "We hope that Almighty God will bring our dear president and his companions back in full health into the arms of the nation," he stated in a televised address.

6.    The search effort has been extensive, with more than 60 rescue teams, including army, Revolutionary Guard forces, and police units, scouring the foggy, mountainous terrain. The harsh weather conditions and heavy fog have significantly hampered these efforts. Iran's Red Crescent chief, Pirhossein Koolivand, said the team has detected a "smell of fuel" in one area, which rescue teams are now converging on.

7.    The international community has expressed concern and offered assistance. Neighbouring countries and organisations, including Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Russia, Turkey, and the European Union, have pledged support. The EU has even activated its rapid response mapping service to aid in the search efforts.

8.    Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday expressed his "deep concern" with a post on social media. "Deeply concerned by reports regarding President Raisi's helicopter flight today. We stand in solidarity with the Iranian people in this hour of distress, and pray for well being of the President and his entourage," he said in a post on X.

9.    Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani conveyed gratitude for the international solidarity and offers of help. US President Joe Biden has been briefed on the situation, with a State Department spokesman confirming they are closely monitoring developments.

10.    This incident follows a period of heightened regional tensions, particularly in light of the Gaza conflict and Iran's recent escalations with Israel. President Raisi, who has been in office since 2021, has pledged Iran's steadfast support for Palestine, a stance reiterated during his recent dam inauguration speech.

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News Network
June 4,2024

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New Delhi: The Congress is on course to win over 100 Lok Sabha seats - after winning just 44 in 2014 and 52 in the 2019 election. In 2009 the party - then heading the United Progressive Alliance - won 206 seats.

The Congress-led INDIA bloc - formed in June last year to stop Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his BJP - led National Democratic Alliance from claiming a third consecutive term in power.

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News Network
June 2,2024

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Bengaluru: The Congress on Sunday released its list of seven candidates for the biennial MLC elections on June 13. The elections were necessitated due to the retirement of 11 members on June 17.

As expected, the Congress has fielded Karnataka Science and Technology Minister N S Boseraju and Chief Minister Siddaramaiah's son Dr Yathindra Siddaramaiah.

The other candidates are Vasanth Kumar, K Govindraj, lvan D'Souza, Bilkis Bano and Jagdev Guttedar.

The party also announced Basanagouda Badarli for the forthcoming MLC byelection for a seat that fell vacant owing to the resignation of former chief minister Jagadish Shettar, who joined the Congress briefly after he rebelled against the BJP when he was denied a ticket in the 2023 assembly election.

"The election dates to fill that post have not been announced yet but our party has declared him as our candidate whenever the election takes place," a Congress leader said.

Shettar contested the assembly election in 2023 on a Congress ticket and after his defeat, his new home rewarded him with an MLC seat.

Earlier this year, he went back to his parent organisation and is contesting the Lok Sabha election on a BJP ticket from Belgaum (Belagavi) constituency against Congress's Mrinal Hebbalkar, who is the son of Women and Child Development Minister Laxmi Hebbalkar.

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News Network
June 3,2024

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Mangaluru: Tamil Nadu surfers swept the top honors in all four categories, men’s open, women’s open, groms boys & U-16 and groms girls & U-16, at the Indian Open of Surfing at the Sasihithlu beach.

Ajeesh Ali, who competed in the Paris Olympics qualifiers (2023 ISA World Surfing Games, El Salvador) last year, was crowned the new IOS champion in the men’s open category.

Teenage sensation Kamali Moorthi completed a double victory by winning both the women’s open and groms girls & U-16 categories, successfully defending her titles.

Another Tamil Nadu teenager, Tayin Arun, impressed the judges with his maneuvers and was crowned the new IOS champion in the groms boys & U-16 category.

The final day's action began with the semi-finals of the groms boys and U-16 category. Local favorite Pradeep Pujar led the pack with a score of 8.80, advancing to the finals alongside Prahlad Sriram (8.50), Harish P (8.26), and Tayin Arun (6.76).

Speaking on the surfing conditions today, Dylan Amar from Indonesia, who was the head judge at Indian Open of Surfing, said, “The conditions today were excellent, making this venue highly competitive. Over the three days, the athletes put on an impressive show. If they maintain this level of effort, Indian surfers could soon make it to the Olympics."

The action then moved to the semi-finals of the groms girls and U-16 category. Tamil Nadu surfers Dhamayanthi Sriram and Mahathi Srinivasabharathi qualified for the finals with scores of 4.57 and 3.54 respectively. Kamali Moorthi, the top seed from Tamil Nadu, had already been granted a final spot based on her national ranking.

The finals of the groms boys and U-16 category saw Tayin Arun impressing the judges with his acrobatics, winning his first title at IOS with a score of 10.17. Harish P (8.40) and Prahlad Sriram (7.47) made it a thrilling competition, finishing second and third, respectively. Mantra Surf Club's Pradeep Pujar finished fourth with a score of 5.34.

Speaking after winning his first-ever IOS title, Tayin Arun expressed his joy, "I’m really happy to win the title today as it is my first IOS title, and the conditions were really good for surfing. I enjoyed surfing today, and I’m looking forward to winning more titles in the future. I missed Kishore Kumar as he is my best friend, and I would like to beat him as well."

The final day also featured the groms girls and U-16 finals, an all-Tamil Nadu affair. Kamali Moorthi emerged victorious with a commanding score of 12.17, securing the title by a wide margin. Dhamayanthi Sriram (5.93) and Mahathi Srinivasabharathi (2.07) finished second and third, respectively.

The highlight event of the day was the men’s open surfing final, another all Tamil Nadu affair, featuring the top-seeded surfers from across the country. Ajeesh Ali, who represented India at the 2023 ISA World Surfing Games in El Salvador, walked away with the championship title with the highest score of the day (14.70). The intense action and thrilling competition in the category captivated the audience.

Srikanth D (12.57) and Sanjaikumar S (11.10) took the runner-up and second runner-up titles, respectively, while Sanjay Selvamani came in fourth with a score of 6.17.

Speaking after winning the IOS title in surfing men’s open category, Ajeesh Ali said, “I am thrilled to have won the title today after being the runner-up in the previous edition. Winning the Indian Open of Surfing was something I desperately wanted.

"My experience in El Salvador last year for the Paris Olympics qualifiers allowed me to compete with some of the world’s best surfers and learn a great deal from them. The conditions today were challenging with slow waves, but luckily, I had a board specifically for such conditions. The competition was fierce, as my fellow surfers are among the best in the country."

The women’s open surf category finals concluded the event with fierce competition among India’s leading female surfers. Kamali Moorthi emerged victorious, winning the IOS women’s championship title in a thrilling final.

Kamali scored 12.40 in the finals, narrowly edging out 2022 champion Sugar Banarse from Goa, who scored 12.23 and finished as the runner-up by just 0.17 points. Neha Vaid from Mumbai came in third with a score of 2.97.

Speaking post winning the double titles at IOS, Kamali said, "I am thrilled to have successfully defended both my titles at the Indian Open of Surfing. Surfing in Mangaluru is always a joy, and today was no different. The women’s open category was challenging because I was competing against Sugar Banarse, the 2022 champion. Despite this, I managed to stay calm and not let the pressure get to me before the finals." 

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