No, these photos don’t show the helicopter crash that killed Iran’s president

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

Photos have gone viral purporting to show the helicopter crash site that left Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi dead. The photos are four years old.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, along with the foreign minister and other officials died in a helicopter crash Sunday, May 19, in northwestern Iran. 

Shortly after the news broke, photos went viral on X purporting to show the scene of the helicopter crash.

“NEW PICTURE RELEASED OF HELICOPTER CRASH THAT KILLED IRAN PRESIDENT EBRAHIM RAISI,” one X post says. The photo shows people standing around a crash site. The post racked up more than 5 million views before it was taken down. 

Another X post with millions of views says “BREAKING: MANY BODIES OF THOSE DIED IN IRAN PRESIDENT RAISI HELICOPTER CRASH HAVE BEEN BURNT AND CANNOT BE IDENTIFIED.” That post includes a collage of photos showing people standing around a crash site.

THE QUESTION

Do the viral photos show the aftermath of the helicopter crash in Iran that killed President Ebrahim Raisi?

THE SOURCES

THE ANSWER

No, viral photos don’t show the aftermath of the helicopter crash in Iran that killed President Ebrahim Raisi. They are from a plane crash in 2020. 

WHAT WE FOUND

The photos that appear in the viral posts are real and do show a plane crash in Iran, but they are all several years old. The photos actually show the scene after a small police training plane crashed in Iran’s Salmanshahr District in April 2020. 

Using RevEye, a reverse image search tool, VERIFY traced the photos seen in the viral X posts shared on May 19 and May 20, 2024, to photos the Tehran-based news website Rokna Press and the Iranian Red Crescent Society published on April 22, 2020. 

In the images being shared recently and in the ones published more than four years ago, the same men can be seen, along with the same pattern on the plane and the same wooded scenery.

The Associated Press and The New York Times published images and video that were provided to them from news sources in Iran from the May 19th helicopter crash. The helicopter debris and the helicopter’s color seen in the news reports don’t match the photos being falsely shared as recent. 

According to reports, the helicopter crashed in a mountainous area near the city of Jolfa after experiencing “technical failure.” Raisa and other Iranian leaders were traveling after inaugurating a dam project.

After it was announced that Raisa and others were killed, Iran’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei announced five days of mourning and named Mohammad Mokhber interim president. 

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.