Tue, Feb 17, 2009
Impacted Mountain While Transporting Fire Crews
Chilean authorities have located the victims of an apparent CFIT
helicopter accident in the Andes Sunday.
CNN reports Eduardo Canala Pecchenino, a Chilean air force
commander who until December served as the pilot for Chilean
President Michelle Bachelet, was transporting 12 firefighters when
the helicopter, type unreported, impacted a fog-and-smoke-obscured
mountain in central Chile.
All 13 persons onboard were killed in the Sunday afternoon
accident. Local fire crews battling a series of forest fires in
central Chile were the first responders to the scene.
"The helicopter was totally disintegrated and scattered and the
engine was on fire," department commander Carlos Penailillo told El
Universal. "Everyone was dead. There were three bodies still inside
the cabin, and the rest were spread in the surrounding area,
including over some thickets."
The helicopter was owned by Chilean paper company CELCO, and
operated by a company referred to as Flight Service in news
Canala had served as presidential pilot since 2000, flying
former president Ricardo Lagos until Bachelet's election in 2006.
He was slated to report to the Chilean air force war college upon
leaving that detail, but had been granted permission to work for
the fire crews before starting his next assignment.
"He was a man with much experience, with more than 20 years in
the air force and whom I knew personally," federal aviation
investigator Sergio Sepulveda told La Nacion.
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