Copter crashes surveying earthquake damage; 13 dead

By Allen Cone  |  Feb. 17, 2018 at 12:11 PM
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Feb. 17 (UPI) -- A military helicopter surveying damage from an earthquake in Mexico crashed while landing Friday night, killing 13 people on the aircraft or on the ground, Mexican officials said.

The helicopter crashed in Santiago Jamiltepec in the Mexican state of Oaxaca, the state attorney general's office said.

One person died at a local hospital and the others were found dead at the scene.

The helicopter was surveying damage near the epicenter of the 7.2-magnitude earthquake 5:39 p.m. and a magnitude-5.8 aftershock 57 minutes later, the U.S. Geological Survey reported.

Fifteen people were injured, including Mexican Interior Minister Alfonso Navarrete and Oaxaca governor Alejandro Murat, who suffered "slight concussions" in the crash, the Interior Ministry posted on Twitter.

Navarrete told the Televisa network that the helicopter pilot lost control of the aircraft about 22 miles southwest of the epicenter, according to Sky News.

The government didn't give a breakdown of deaths of those aboard and those on the ground but confirmed three of the dead were children.

"Unfortunately, people on the ground lost their lives and others were wounded. My condolences to their families and my wishes for a prompt recovery to those injured," the President tweeted.

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto said there are no reports of fatalities directly linked to the quake and aftershock.

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