Eight Guatemalan soldiers killed in helicopter crash

Eight members of the Guatemalan Air Force were killed Tuesday when their helicopter crashed in rugged jungle near the Mexican border, an official said.

"Inside the helicopter were eight members of the armed forces, six crew and two pilots, resulting in eight deaths," Peten province Governor Henry Amezquita told a local radio station.

According to preliminary information, the helicopter crashed near the community of Chacalte, in San Luis Peten, about 500 kilometers (310 miles) north of the capital of Guatemala City, Amezquita said.

The governor did not specify the cause of the accident but said the mountainous jungle terrain might have contributed to the crash.

"The village of Chacalte is in a hilly area and there is an area of jungle out there that has some rather high hills and it could be there that the accident occurred," Amezquita said. "I think there might have been a mistake on the issue of flying very low."

Amilcar Lemus, spokesman for the local volunteer fire department, said a rescue team was sent to the scene but found no survivors.

"What we have here on the site is a pile of what remains of the fallen aircraft and the people are dead under the helicopter, but we have not removed them because there is no order from the prosecutor's office," Lemus told a local radio station.

The helicopter was flying from Guatemala City to the site of the country's Northern Air Command in Peten, but the mission of the crew was not revealed by the Guatemalan military. An army statement said the helicopter was piloted by a lieutenant.

The accident was the second Guatemalan military helicopter crash this week.

In the other one, three people were injured when a helicopter made an emergency landing during a mechanical failure in the El Guarumo area of Guatemala's Caribbean coast.

by Lachlan Carmichael © 2012 AFP

Source: AFP
Date: Feb 28, 2012