Iran’s Ebrahim Raisi joins list of top leaders who died in aviation disasters

Pictured are Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, Poland’s Lech Kaczynski, and Chile’s former President Sebastian Pinera, who all perished in aircraft accidents. — Reuters/File

The unfortunate helicopter accident that resulted in the passing of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi on Monday adds him to a tragic list of notable figures who have perished in flight disasters. The following are some of the most prominent:

2024: Chile’s Past President Sebastian Pinera

Ex-president Sebastian Pinera of Chile, who served from 2010-2014 and again from 2018-2022, tragically lost his life in a helicopter crash on February 6, 2024, near the resort location of Lago Ranco, about 920 kilometres (570 miles) to the south of Santiago.

2010: Polish President Lech Kaczynski

The 10th of April 2010 witnessed a fatal crash of a Tupolev 154 aircraft carrying 96 individuals, including Polish President Lech Kaczynski and top-tier officials from the military and political spheres. The accident occurred amidst dense fog near Smolensk airport in western Russia.

All on board were lost. The catastrophe was ascribed to a combination of severe weather and mistakes by both the Polish flight crew and Russian air traffic controllers.

2005: Sudanese Vice-President and Former Militant Leader John Garang

John Garang, once a separatist rebel commander who had ascended to the role of Sudanese vice-president, died on July 30, 2005, when the helicopter he was on crashed during his return trip from Uganda to Sudan.

2004: Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski

Boris Trajkovski, the President of Macedonia, along with eight others, perished on February 26, 2004, after his plane went down under heavy fog conditions close to Mostar in southern Bosnia.

1994: Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana and Burundian President Cyprien Ntaryamira

Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana and Burundian President Cyprien Ntaryamira were flying over Kigali on April 6, 1994, when their aircraft, a Falcon 50, was brought down by at least one missile strike.

This assault is widely acknowledged as the catalyst for the mass slaughter of Tutsis that followed, which saw over 800,000 lives taken, according to the United Nations.

1988: President of Pakistan Zia ul-Haq

On August 17, 1988, Pakistan’s President Zia ul-Haq was among those killed in a plane crash near Bahawalpur in the eastern part of the country.

1986: Mozambican President Samora Machel

The first President of Mozambique, Samora Machel, met his demise on October 19, 1986 when his Tupolev 134 crashed in north-eastern South Africa.

1961: Secretary General of the UN Dag Hammarskjold

Dag Hammarskjold, serving as the Secretary General of the United Nations, was en route on a peacemaking mission to the Congo when his plane crashed on the night of September 17-18, 1961, in Northern Rhodesia, which is today known as Zambia. The exact reasons behind the crash remain a mystery to this day.

Leave a Comment