Old photo of Iran president misrepresented after helicopter crash

Social media users are claiming an image shows Ebrahim Raisi emerging from a helicopter unscathed after his aircraft went missing in May 2024. But the Iranian president was confirmed dead after search and rescue teams found the crashed chopper in a fog-shrouded western mountain region -- and the photo circulating online dates to 2022, when he visited a region affected by floods.

"Bad news for Zionists.. Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi is safe," says a May 19, 2024 post on X.

<span>Screenshot from X taken May 20, 2024</span>
Screenshot from X taken May 20, 2024

Similar posts claim the picture -- which shows Raisi disembarking a red-and-white helicopter in a mountainous area -- proves he was "safe," made an "emergency landing" or "survived" a crash.

The Iranian president was confirmed dead May 20, sparking mourning in the Islamic republic after an all-night search and rescue effort located the mangled wreckage.

None of the nine people aboard the aircraft survived. The chopper lost radio contact May 19 as Raisi was returning from East Azerbaijan province, where he inaugurated a dam project.

The picture circulating online is unrelated to the fatal crash.

A reverse image search surfaced the photo on the stock image website Alamy, which says it was taken July 30, 2022 as Raisi visited the flood-ravaged region of Firouzkouh (archived here).

<span>Screenshot from Alamy taken May 20, 2024</span>
Screenshot from Alamy taken May 20, 2024

The Iranian president's website published the same photo that day alongside others from the visit (archived here).

The trip came after floods wreaked havoc across Iran, killing at least 80 people and leaving dozens more missing. Other photos show Raisi donning the same black turban and religious robe at the site of a flash flood.

<span>This handout picture provided by the Iranian presidency shows President Ebrahim Raisi (2nd R) visiting the site of a flash flood in the Firouzkouh area east of Tehran, on July 30, 2022</span><div><span>Iranian Presidency</span></div>
This handout picture provided by the Iranian presidency shows President Ebrahim Raisi (2nd R) visiting the site of a flash flood in the Firouzkouh area east of Tehran, on July 30, 2022
Iranian Presidency
<span>This handout picture provided by the Iranian presidency shows President Ebrahim Raisi visiting the site of a flash flood in the Firouzkouh area east of Tehran, on July 30, 2022</span><div><span>Iranian Presidency</span></div>
This handout picture provided by the Iranian presidency shows President Ebrahim Raisi visiting the site of a flash flood in the Firouzkouh area east of Tehran, on July 30, 2022
Iranian Presidency

The chopper carrying Raisi on May 19, meanwhile, was a blue and white Bell 212 helicopter -- not the aircraft from the 2022 picture.

<span>Rescue team members work at the crash site of a helicopter carrying Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in Varzaghan, northwestern Iran on May 20, 2024</span><div><span>Azin HAGHIGHI</span><span>MOJ News Agency</span></div>
Rescue team members work at the crash site of a helicopter carrying Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in Varzaghan, northwestern Iran on May 20, 2024
Azin HAGHIGHIMOJ News Agency

AFP has debunked other misinformation about Raisi's death in Arabic here, here and here.