Raisi, Habyarimana: List of Presidents who have died in aviation accidents from 1936 to the Present

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The helicopter crash on Sunday, May 19, 2024, which led to the death of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi has joined the list of aviation accidents that have claimed the lives of the Presidents or Heads of State of countries around the world.

The Iranian President wasn’t the only one aboard when his helicopter crashed. Along with him were the country’s foreign minister Hossein Amirabdollahian; governor of East Azerbaijan province Malek Rahmati; and Hojjatoleslam Al Hashem, Tabriz Friday prayer leader. They were all confirmed dead early Monday morning after the search and rescue team found the location of the wreckage that burnt into ashes.

this photo shows the President Ebrahim Raisi of Iran who died in helicopter crash on May 19, 2024
President Ebrahim Raisi of Iran died in helicopter crash on May 19, 2024.

The Iranian president wasn’t the first president or head of state of a country to die in aviation and incidents, on April 6, 1994, the Dassault Falcon 50 aircraft model carrying President Juvénal Habyarimana of Rwanda was shot down in Kigali. His death plunged the country into a political and ethnic crisis.

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INFOMEDIANG highlights the incidences of aviation accidents that have claimed the lives of leaders of countries.

Prime Minister of Arvid Lindman Sweden

  • December 9, 1936
  • Croydon, United Kingdom
  • Airplane accident 

President José Félix Estigarribia of Paraguay

The Paraguay 34th president on September 7, 1940, died in an airplane accident alongside his wife and first lady Julia Miranda Cueto on a trip from Altos to residence in San Bernardino, when their plane crashed in Agapuey. Other crew members all died.

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Before becoming the president, he was the commander in chief of the country’s Army during the Chaco War.

Prime Minister Władysław Sikorski of Poland

  • July 4, 1943
  • Gibraltar, U.K

President Ramon Magsaysay of Philippines

On March 17, 1957, the aircraft model Douglas C-47 Skytrain which the Philippines President was traveling in crashed in Balamban, Cebu.

Magsaysay was returning to his Manila presidential villa after attending an event at the University of the Visayas, where he was conferred an honorary Doctor of Laws. But he couldn’t make it back to Manila when the presidential plane “Mt. Pinatubo”, a C-47 crashed and killed all 25 people aboard, only a newspaperman named Nestor Mata survived the accident.

President Nereu Ramos of Brazil

On June 16, 1958, the Convair CV-440 Metropolitan which Brazilian President Nereu de Oliveira Ramos was travelling in crashed near Curitiba Afonso Pena International Airport and he died.

His death plunged the country into another set of leadership crises after the controversial suicide of President Getúlio Vargas and the impeachment of Deputy Carlos Luz and President Café Filho.

Prime Minister Barthélemy Boganda of Central African Republic 

  • March 29, 1959
  • Boukpayanga, CAR
  • Airplane crash 

President Abdul Salam Arif of Iraq

On April 13, 1966, the de Havilland Dove aircraft model which President Abdul Salam Arif was travelling in crashed in southern Iraq about 10 kilometres from Basra Airport.

President Humberto of Brazil

Nine years after Brazil lost President Nereu in a plane crash, another tragedy befell the country on July 18, 1967, as President Humberto de Alencar Castelo Branco died in a plane crash at Fortaleza, Ceará, Brazil. It was the second time Brazil would be losing their leader to an air disaster.

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President René Barrientos of Bolivia

  • Date: April 27, 1969
  • Location: Arque, Bolivia
  • Type: helicopter crash

Prime Minister Joël Rakotomalala of Madagascar

  • July 30, 1976
  • Antsirabe, Madagascar
  • Helicopter accident 

Prime Minister Džemal Bijedić of Yugoslavia 

  • January 18, 1977
  • Kreševo, Yugoslavia 
  • Airplane crash

Lt. Col. Ahmed Ould Bouceif of Mauritania

  • Date: January 27, 1979
  • Location: off the coast of Dakar, Senegal
  • Type: Airplane crash

Prime Minister Francisco de Sá Carneiro of Portugal 

  • December 4, 1980

The Cessna 421 jet carrying the Portuguese Prime Minister crashed at Camarate, Portugal killed him along with Defence Minister, Adelino Amaro da Costa.

President Jaime Aguilera of Ecuador

On May 24, 1981, a Beechcraft Super King Air carrying President Jaime Roldós Aguilera of Ecuador and his wife crashed at Huasipungo Hill, near the town of Guachanamá, in the Celica Canton of Loja Province.

All passengers on board died, including the Minister of Defense Marco Subía Martinez and his wife; two aide-de-camps, a flight attendant, and both pilots.

Military leader Omar Torrijos of Panama

On July 31, 1981, the military leader of Panama along with his four aides, and two pilots died in De Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter crash in Penonomé, Panama.

President Samora Moises Mache of Mozambique 

  • October 19, 1986
  • Mbuzini, South Africa 
  • Plane accident 

Prime Minister Rashid Karami of Lebanon

  • June 1, 1987

The Aérospatiale SA 330 Puma helicopter that was conveying Rashid was bombed in Beirut, Lebanon and all occupants were killed.

Presidents of Rwanda and Burundi

On April 6, 1994, Dassault Falcon 50 model carrying President Juvénal Habyarimana of Rwanda and his Burundian counterpart Cyprien Ntaryamira was shot down as they were approaching Kigali International Airport, Rwanda.

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The aircraft belonged to the Rwandan Presidential jet. All people onboard died after attackers fired rockets and propelled grenades at the presidential jet.

President Boris Trajkovski of North Macedonia

  • February 26, 2004
  • Location: Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Type: Aircraft crash

President Lech Aleksander Kaczyński of Poland

  • April 10, 2010
  • Smolensk, Russia
  • Airplane accident 

President Sebastián Piñera Echenique of Chile

  • February 6, 2024
  • Lake Ranco
  • Helicopter accident 

President Ebrahim Raisi of Iran

Sunday, May 19, 2024, is the newest aviation accident that consumed the lives of Iranian President Raisi.

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