Edited photo shared to show helicopter involved in Iranian President's deadly crash

By: Umme Kulsum
May 21 2024

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Edited photo shared to show helicopter involved in Iranian President's deadly crash

Screenshot of a post sharing an edited image to claim it shows the chopper involved in Iranian President's death. (Source: Instagram/Modified by Logically Facts)


The Verdict Fake

The visual of the helicopter seen online has been taken from an iStock photo. The photo of the aircraft was superimposed onto a different background.

Claim ID fa4bc5ce

What’s the claim?

An image depicting a helicopter engulfed in flames midair is circulating on social media with the claim that it shows the aircraft that crashed and killed Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and other passengers on May 19.

One post on Instagram (archived here) shared the image of the ablaze blue helicopter with the caption, "#BREAKING Photo of late President of Iran, Ebrahim Raisi's helicopter which crashed yesterday in Northwestern Iran resulting in the death of all passengers."

Another post carrying the image (archived here) was captioned, "Breaking News: Iranian President's helicopter started burning in the air. Pictures taken from a Chinese satellite have been handed over to Iranian authorities..!!" (Roughly translated from Urdu).

Screenshot of claims made online. (Source: Instagram/YouTube/Instagram/Modified by Logically Facts)

The viral image was first shared by X user Diana Wallace who claimed that the helicopter carrying President Raisi was shot by a "space laser". However, the viral photo is edited.

What we found

A Google reverse image search led us to a photo of the helicopter on iStock (archive here) — a stock image photography website. The photo was uploaded on March 24, 2015 with a caption suggesting a midair explosion. The image was credited to one "giocalde". 

Screenshot of the image uploaded on iStock. (Source: iStock/Modified by Logically Facts)

We clicked on ths profile and looked for more pictures. On using the "helicopter" as one of the keywords, we came across several pictures (archive here) but without the flames. 

Comparison showing the viral image and the Istock photo. (Source: iStock/X/Modified by Logically Facts)

The caption noted that picture was taken on September 9, 2012 in Valdagno, Italy.

It's evident that the iStock photo of the chopper had been superimposed onto a background showing hills and grassland to claim it was the site where Raisi's aircraft crashed. The iStock visual of the helicopter in question has also been slightly tilted in the viral image.

Additionally, The Washington Post reported that the helicopter transporting the Iranian President during the crash was a U.S.-designed Bell 212. Reuters provided an image depicting the helicopter that carried Raisi, other ministers and officials, and crew members near the Iran-Azerbaijan border. The Bell 212 differs significantly in appearance from the aircraft seen in the viral image. 

Image of the helicopter in which President Ebrahim Raisi was traveling on May 19. (Source: Reuters)

Furthermore, a video shared by CNN showing the site of the helicopter crash that killed the Iranian President is different from what the image in question shows.

While the cause of the crash has not been officially announced by Iran, according to reports, the helicopter went down in mountainous terrain amid dense fog. There is no evidence yet to support the claim that the helicopter was shot down or caught fire while it was in the air. 

The verdict 

A photograph of an aircraft available on a stock photography website was manipulated to create the viral photo and falsely claim that it captured the burning helicopter involved in Raisi's crash. Therefore, we have marked this claim as fake. 

(Note: The story has been edited to reflect that the original picture of the helicopter in flames could have been edited.)

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Global Fact-Checks Completed

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