Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Mexico Copter Crash Kills 13; by Mark Stevenson

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Mexico Copter Crash Kills 13; by Mark Stevenson

Article excerpt

Byline: The Associated Press

MEXICO CITY -- A military helicopter carrying officials assessing damage from a powerful earthquake crashed Friday in southern Mexico, killing 13 people and injuring 16, all of them on the ground.

The Oaxaca state prosecutor's office said in a statement that five women, four men and three children were killed at the crash site and another person died later at the hospital.

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 a powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake hit the area. Aftershocks had caused people to flee their homes for fear they would collapse.

The Defense Department said the Blackhawk helicopter suffered the mishap when it was preparing to land on a vacant lot in the city of Jamiltepec, about 19 miles from the area of Pinotepa Nacional. The craft was carrying Interior Secretary Alfonso Navarrete and Oaxaca Gov. Alejandro Murat, neither of whom had serious injuries. The department said the victims had been waiting for the helicopter, but did not provide more details.

The accident was the latest embarrassment in little more than a month since Navarrete took over at the Interior Department, which oversees most political and security issues. Earlier this month, an intelligence agent from an agency overseen by Navarrete's department was caught tailing an opposition presidential candidate.

Both Navarrete and the defense department said they regretted the loss of life in Friday's accident.

The same city where the accident occurred also saw significant destruction from the earthquake. About 50 homes were damaged, as well as the town hall and church, according to the Interior Department.

Two people suffered fractures and non-life threatening injuries in Pinotepa Nacional.

The damage was minimal compared to a massive 8.2 quake that struck in the same general area on Sept. 7 and a 7.1 magnitude quake on Sept. …

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