Copter on quake mission flips in Mexico, kills 13 on ground
A military helicopter carrying officials who were assessing damage from a powerful earthquake flipped as it was attempting to land in southern Mexico, crashing on top of people who had fled their homes and were spending the night outside. Thirteen people were killed – the only known fatalities related to the quake – and 16 were injured.
No one aboard the helicopter, including Interior Secretary Alfonso Navarrete and Oaxaca Gov. Alejandro Murat, was seriously hurt. Jorge Morales, a local reporter who was aboard the helicopter when it crashed Friday night, described harrowing moments as the pilot lost control, and the helicopter attempted to touch down in a swirl of dust in Jamiltepec, a city in Oaxaca state close to the epicenter of the earthquake that struck earlier Friday.
“The moment the helicopter touched down it lost control, it slid – like it skidded – and it hit some vehicles that were parked alongside the area that had been defined for the landing,” Morales told a Mexican television news program. “In that moment, you couldn’t see anything, nothing else was heard beside the sound that iron makes when it scrapes the earth.”
Navarrete told local media that “as the army helicopter we were traveling in tried to land, the pilot lost control, the helicopter fell and flipped.”
A state government official, who was not authorized to be quoted by name, said the chopper crashed into a group of people who had been spending the night outside after the 7.2 magnitude earthquake hit the area.