Saturday 21 July 2018

13 killed in helicopter crash after Mexico earthquake

The helicopter was carrying Secretary Alfonso Navarrete and Oaxaca state Governor Alejandro Murat, and both survived the crash.

A soldier guards a downed helicopter in Santiago Jimitepec, Oaxaca state
A soldier guards a downed helicopter in Santiago Jimitepec, Oaxaca state

By Associated Press Reporters

A military helicopter carrying officials assessing damage from a powerful earthquake has crashed in southern Mexico, killing 13 people and injuring 15, all of them on the ground.

The Oaxaca state prosecutor’s office said the chopper crashed into a group of people who had been spending the night outside after a powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake hit the area.

Five women, four men and three children were killed at the crash site and another person died later in hospital.

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Family members mourn victims of the helicopter crash in Santiago Jimitepec, Oaxaca state

The Defence Department said the victims had been waiting for the helicopter, but did not provide more details.

The military helicopter apparently flipped and fell on top of the group of people as it attempted to land.

Mexico’s Interior Department said that the helicopter was carrying Secretary Alfonso Navarrete and Oaxaca state Governor Alejandro Murat, who were evaluating reports of damage from the earthquake.

Mr Navarrete told local media that “as the army helicopter we were travelling in tried to land, the pilot lost control, the helicopter fell and flipped”.

You couldn't see anything, nothing else was heard beside the sound that iron makes when it scrapes the earth Reporter Jorge Rosales

Jorge Rosales, a local reporter who was aboard the helicopter when it crashed, described harrowing moments as the pilot lost control and the helicopter attempted to land in a swirl of dust.

“The moment the helicopter touched down it lost control, it slid – like it skidded – and it hit some vehicles that were stationed in the area,” he said.

“In that moment, you couldn’t see anything, nothing else was heard beside the sound that iron makes when it scrapes the earth.”

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The scene of the crash

The helicopter was attempting to land on a vacant piece of ground in the city of Jamiltepec, about 19 miles from the area of Pinotepa Nacional, the Mexican army said.

The US Geological Survey originally put the magnitude of Friday’s quake at 7.5 but later lowered it to 7.2. It said the epicentre was 33 miles north-east of Pinotepa in southern Oaxaca state, and had a depth of 15 miles.

President Enrique Pena Nieto said via Twitter that both officials and crew were unhurt, although the interior department said that they had light injuries.

Press Association

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