Five killed as helicopter used by Bolivian president crashes

July 22nd, 2008 - 9:51 am ICT by IANS  

La Paz, July 22 (IANS) Four Venezuelan pilots and a Bolivian were killed when a helicopter that was used hours earlier by Bolivian President Evo Morales crashed in central Bolivia, EFE news agency reported Tuesday quoting Defence Minister Walker San Miguel. The Super Puma helicopter belonging to Venezuelan Air Force crashed Sunday night near Colomi, a town in Cochabamba province, Miguel said in a press conference here Monday.

The helicopter was going from Cochabamba a Cobija in the Amazonian province of Pando, about 1,232 kilometres north of La Paz.

“We have expressed our condolences to the president, commander Hugo Chavez, and words of support for the Venezuelan people, who support us. I feel great pain,” Morales said.

“President Evo Morales travelled (Sunday) on that machine from the Huanuni to the city of Oruro,” the minister said, adding that the president had planned to use the helicopter Monday to travel from Cobija, on the border with Brazil, to Blanca Flor, a town in the Amazonian province of Pando.

The aircraft was “fully operational and had maintenance”, the defence minister said and added that an investigation into the cause of the accident has been ordered.

In June last year, another Venezuelan Super Puma crashed near Cochabamba, killing one Venezuelan and three Bolivians.

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