Iranian president missing after helicopter crash: Here's what to know about Ebrahim Raisi

A helicopter carrying Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi crashed Sunday, leading to a massive search and rescue effort to locate the hard-right leader.

An Iranian official told Reuters that the lives of Raisi and Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian were "at risk following the helicopter crash," which happened on the way back from a visit to Iran's border with Azerbaijan.

"We are still hopeful but information coming from the crash site is very concerning," said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The wire service reported that Iranian state television has stopped all regular programming and is showing prayers from across the country and scenes of the rescue effort.

Raisi was returning from the Azerbaijani border after an event to inaugurate the Qiz-Qalaisi Dam, a joint project between the two countries.

Here's what you need to know about Ebrahim Raisi.

When was Ebrahim Raisi elected president of Iran?

Raisi was elected to the presidency in June of 2021 and took office in August the same year.

"The Iranian people expect the new government to improve their livelihoods... All illegal US sanctions against the Iranian nation must be lifted," he said after being sworn in, according to the BBC.

During his presidency, Raisi has presided over a tightening of morality laws, suppression of anti-government protests and pushed hard to revive nuclear talks with world powers.

Raisi previously ran for the office in 2017 against then incumbent Hassan Rouhani.

Who was Ebrahim Raisi before the presidency?

Raisi was formerly the head of the Iranian Judiciary, placed in the position by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in 2019.

Raisi served as the nation's prosecutor general between 2014-2016, first deputy head of the country's judiciary from 2004-2014 and the prosecutor general of Tehran between 1989-1994.

The United States Treasury Department imposed sanctions on Raisi after his appointment for "his administrative oversight over the executions of individuals who were juveniles at the time of their crime and the torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment of prisoners in Iran, including amputations."

What power does the Iranian presidency hold?

In the Iranian political system, the president is the highest elected position and the second highest government office behind the Rahbar or supreme leader, according to Encyclopedia Brittanica.

The Iranian president functions as the head of government in the country and serves four-year terms, with a two-term limit.

Raisi has been seen as a potential replacement for Khamenei.

Contributing: Reuters

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: What to know about Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi after helicopter crash