A helicopter carrying the Mexican interior minister and the governor of the earthquake-stricken state of Oaxaca has crashed. Both officials survived, but more than a dozen people were killed.
The military helicopter carrying Interior Minister Alfonso Navarrete Prida and Oaxaca Governor Alejandro Mura crashed while attempting an emergency landing in the disaster-affected province, the minister told TV network Televisa. Later, the Mexican Prosecutor General’s Office said that as many as 13 people died in the crash.
The helicopter reportedly experienced technical problems and the pilot tried to land it. But the heavy craft caught a van under its tail, crushing it, according to photos from the scene.
The Mexican state of Oaxaca was hit by a 7.2-magnitude earthquake on Friday, causing damage to buildings and massive power outages. It was felt as far away as Mexico City where swaying buildings caused thousands of people to panic and spill out into the streets. The senior officials were on a damage assessment tour when their aircraft crashed.
Comment: UPDATE: 17th February 2018, teleSUR reports:
According to Oaxaca’s State Attorney General, 13 people were killed in a helicopter crash near the epicenter of Friday´s 7.2 earthquake in Mexico. Via a press release issued early on Saturday, the Attorney General´s office informed officials that the bodies of five women, four men, two girls, and boy were found at the crash site.
A group of officials, including Mexico’s interior minister and Oaxaca’s governor, were aboard the helicopter surveying the damage to coordinate the federal government´s response to the emergency when the pilot is said to have lost control of the craft. The two officials were unharmed.
“Another person died in the hospital of Jamiltepec where he was taken due to the lesions endured,” the press release reads.
Officials say the helicopter was between 30 and 40 meters from the landing when the incident occurred, all of the persons reported dead we on the ground near the crash site.
The earthquake, which struck the region Friday at 5:39 p.m., also activated the Mexican volcano Popocatepetl, north of Oaxaca. Less than an hour after the tremors, the volcano emitted a 700-meter high column of water vapor and ash.
Although there have been no casualties directly related to the quake, local media reports that over 570,000 people are without electricity. Tremors were reported to have reached neighboring Guatemala.