13 dead after helicopter surveying earthquake damage crashes in Mexico

Posted at 11:01 AM, Feb 17, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-17 11:01:13-05

A military helicopter carrying officials surveying earthquake damage crashed Friday night in the southeastern Mexican state of Oaxaca, killing at least 13 people, Mexican officials said.

Twelve people died at the site of the crash in Santiago Jamiltepec, while another person died in the hospital, the state attorney general's office said. Three of the dead were children, the office said. Fifteen others were injured.

It is unclear how many of the victims were on the helicopter and how many were on the ground.

Mexican Interior Minister Alfonso Navarrete Prida and Oaxaca's governor, Alejandro Murat, were flying near the quake's epicenter to evaluate damage when the helicopter crashed. Both men survived and only suffered "slight concussions," the Interior Ministry tweeted.

The 7.2 magnitude earthquake and a magnitude 5.8 aftershock -- both with epicenters in Oaxaca state -- struck the region Friday, the US Geological Survey reported.

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto said the crash took place while the helicopter was landing.

"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.

When addressing the helicopter crash on Twitter, Peña Nieto said there were no reports of fatalities directly linked to the quake and aftershock.

Efrain de la Cruz, mayor of Santiago Jamiltepec, was on the phone with CNN en Español's Mario González when the crash occurred.

"A helicopter carrying the governor and the others went down," he said.

"A helicopter is down, a helicopter is down. Oh my God! It's a military helicopter," Cruz said. "This can't be possible, oh my God."

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