Shortly before embarking on a fatal helicopter ride last Sunday, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and his delegation of senior officials held a communal prayer. Someone suggested having lunch, but the president demurred, saying he was in a hurry to reach his next destination.

Raisi boarded the aircraft and sat by a window. Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian stopped for a picture with a crowd that was swarming the tarmac. He smiled and placed one hand over his chest while holding a brown briefcase in the other.

Around 1 p.m., a convoy of three helicopters took off from a helipad on Iran’s border with Azerbaijan, with the president’s craft in the middle. But about half-hour into the flight, the president’s helicopter vanished.