MEXICO CITY – The helicopter that crashed carrying the governor of Puebla state suffered an apparent unspecified failure, the Mexican Public Security and Civil Protection secretary said on Monday as officials demanded a thorough probe including international experts.
In a press conference, secretary Alfonso Durazo promised a broad and transparent investigation to find out the cause of the accident that killed Governor Martha Erika Alonso, her husband Senator Rafael Moreno Valle, as well as his personal assistant Hector Baltazar Mendoza, and captains Roberto Coppe Obregon and Marco Antonio Tavera Romero.
The state’s first female governor, from the National Action Party, only took office on Dec. 14.
Durazo said that the Augusta A-109 helicopter crashed in the town of Santa Maria de Coronango, 5 kilometers (3 miles) north of Puebla’s international airport at 14:40 local time (2000 GMT), 10 minutes after takeoff from El Triangulo de las Animas heliport.
The aircraft, owned by the local Servicios Aereos del Altiplano and which had a valid permit, was headed to Mexico City.
“When the aircraft was in flight, it suffered an apparent failure not yet specified,” Durazo said.
He said President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador “has given orders to immediately initiate the corresponding investigations, as well as to grant the necessary support both to the government of the state of Puebla and to the relatives.”
For this, he said, “the army, the federal police, the public ministry and all the authorities and experts of the Ministry of Communications and Transportation immediately moved to the scene of the accident.”
“From that moment they met with the local authorities carrying out all the ministerial proceedings to preserve the site and the accident data so that, in due course, they can remove the bodies of the victims,” he said.
He promised that the government will act with “total transparency” and will disclose information that emerges from the case.
Puebla government spokesman Maximiliano Cortazar Lara has requested the participation of international organizations in the investigation, and said the State Attorney General’s Office also initiated its own probe.
Cortazar Lara said the Puebla Congress was asked to declare the permanent absence of the governor, so that, based on the local constitution, an interim governor may be elected. He added that the call for special elections to elect the new governor of Puebla must be issued within a period of no less than three months and no longer than five months.
President Obrador earlier Monday confirmed the deaths of the governor and her husband, and expressed his condolences.
“Personally, my deepest condolences to the relatives of Sen. Rafael Moreno Valle and his wife, Puebla Gov. Martha Erika Alonso. As president, I take on the commitment to investigate the causes (of the crash); tell the truth about what happened and to act accordingly,” wrote the president on his Twitter account.
Interior Secretary Olga Sanchez Cordero also expressed on behalf of the federal government the “most heartfelt condolences” to the people and government of Puebla, as well as to the families of the victims.