GUATEMALA CITY – The chief of Guatemala’s armed forces, Gen. Rudy Ortiz, was among five people killed on Wednesday when a military helicopter crashed in the northwestern province of Huehuetenango, Defense Minister Manuel Lopez said.
There were no survivors, Lopez told a press conference.
The aircraft went down in the village of El Aguacate, more than 400 kilometers (248 miles) from Guatemala City, he said.
Killed along with Ortiz were Brig. Gen. Braulio Rene Mayen Garcia, Col. Rony Adolfo Anleu Del Aguila, Col. Juan de Dios Lopez Gomez – who was at the controls – and Maj. Selvin Ricardo Raymundo.
The helicopter took off at 9:25 a.m. from the Huehuetenango base for a routine inspection tour of units operating along the Mexican border, the defense minister said.
“We can’t speculate about the causes (of the crash) because the helicopter was in good condition, according to the air force,” he said.
The minister noted, however, that in the final communication from the group prior to the accident, Col. Anleu said the chopper had changed course to avoid bad weather.
Guatemala’s president, former Gen. Otto Perez Molina, offered condolences to Ortiz’s family and praised the late defense chief for “his effort and dedication.”
Ortiz, 51, became chief of the General Staff in July 2013, succeeding Manuel Lopez.