Thirteen killed in Mexican minister’s helicopter crash

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MEXICO CITY: Thirteen people, including three children, were killed when a Cabinet minister’s helicopter crash-landed on the way to the epicentre of an earthquake, state officials said yesterday.

The military helicopter that went down late yesterday carried Interior Minister Alfonso Navarrete and Oaxaca state Governor Alejandro Murat, who were unharmed.

But five women, four men, and the three children were killed, the Oaxaca prosecutor’s office said.

Another victim died on the way to hospital. The prolonged 7.2 magnitude quake left nearly a million homes and businesses without power in the capital and the south. But there were no reports of deaths from the quake itself.

At least 50 homes suffered damage in the southern state of Oaxaca, which, along with Mexico City, is still reeling from earthquakes that caused widespread damage in September.

The epicentre was about  145km from the Pacific coast surfer resort Puerto Escondido in  Oaxaca and had a depth of  24.6km, according to the United States  Geological Survey.

The powerful, sustained shaking on Friday gave way to 225 aftershocks, the national seismology service said, and caused widespread panic.

In Mexico City, the seismic alarm sounded 72 seconds before tremors were felt, Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera said, giving residents time to flee to the streets.

Patricia Gutierrez, a 66-year-old English teacher, was taking a nap with her 11-month-old grand-daughter, Juliet, when she heard the distinctive siren. —APP

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