Thousands on street for Iran president's funeral

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Location: www.bbc.com

Thousands at Iran president's funeral procession

By Emma Harrison, BBC News

Thousands of Iranians have gathered on the streets of Tabriz to mourn President Ebrahim Raisi after he was killed in a helicopter crash.

Mourners followed a funeral procession through the city in north-west Iran while waving Iranian flags and portraits of the late president.

Raisi and seven others were killed when a helicopter they were travelling in crashed in a mountainous area of Iran on Sunday.

Despite the huge crowds, not all Iranians supported the president and many celebrated his death on social media.

On Tuesday crowds of mourners followed a lorry carrying the coffins of Mr Raisi and those who died with him, including Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian.

Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi said in a speech: "We, the members of the government, who had the honour to serve this beloved president, the hardworking president, pledge to our dear people and leader to follow the path of these martyrs."

From Tabriz, Raisi's body will be flown to Qom, which is considered the second most sacred city in Iran after Mashhad. His body will then be moved to Iran's capital Tehran.

Processions will be held in the city on Wednesday morning and Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei will lead prayers at a farewell ceremony.

Raisi is then expected to be buried in his birthplace, Mashhad, on Thursday.

The helicopter crashed on Sunday, close to the border with Azerbaijan, where Mr Raisi had been meeting the country's President Ilham Aliyev.

According to local media he was there to open the Qiz Qalasi and Khoda Afarin dams.

State television announced his death in a report early on Monday. The bodies of the president and others who died in the crash had been recovered and search operations had ended, the Iranian Red Crescent also confirmed.

Killed alongside the president and the foreign minister were provincial officials, members of his security team and flight crew.

Raisi, 63, was a hard-line cleric and his election as president in 2021 consolidated the control of conservatives over every part of the Islamic Republic.

State media has said elections will be held on 28 June to choose a new president.

In the meantime, Vice-President Mohammad Mokhber has been appointed to assume interim duties.