Aviation News

February 29, 2012

10 Killed as Guatemalan Air Force Helicopter Crashes on Rescue Mission for Another Downed Chopper

The helicopter went down in the village of Quebrada Seca, near Guatemala's border with Belize
The helicopter went down in the village of Quebrada Seca, near Guatemala's border with Belize. (Map by Google)
Ten people were killed on Tuesday when an Guatemalan Air Force helicopter crashed in northern Guatemala after being sent to help with another helicopter crash in the region, defense officials said. There were no survivors.

The accident happened on early Tuesday afternoon when when the helicopter went down in the village of Quebrada Seca, located in the San Luis municipality in Petén Department, not far from the border with Belize. The aircraft was carrying three crew members and seven passengers.

Guatemalan Defense Minister Ulises Anzueto confirmed all ten people on board were killed. He said the Bell UH-1H Iroquois (reg HL-190), one of the largest helicopters being used by the Guatemalan Air Force, had been asked to assist with another helicopter crash in the region, in which three people were injured. The fatal accident occurred after the crew was told their assistance was no longer required.

The helicopter, which was said to be in a good condition and has a service record of more than 20 years, had initially left on a weekly flight to supply military posts and transport soldiers. The pilot, Lieutenant José Everardo Portillo Salazar, was experienced with more than 700 flight hours.

The cause of the accident was not immediately known, but bad weather conditions may have played a role.