TEGUCIGALPA – The former Honduran minister of strategy and communications, Hilda Hernandez, sister of the nation’s President Juan Orlando Hernandez, died on Saturday along with another five people in an air force helicopter crash, local media reported, citing sources close to her family.
The aircraft, which was reported missing at 9:47 am, was found in the mountainous Yerbabuena sector, close to Tegucigalpa in the country’s central region, according to preliminary reports.
The other five aboard were infantry Capt. Patricia Valladares, security agents Nahun Lagos and Marcos Banegas, Lieut. Ivan Vasquez the pilot and Second Lieut. Gerson Diaz, the copilot, the Honduran armed forces had reported previously in a statement.
Until 5:15 pm, no officials had reported the helicopter accident, but various people had begun to express their condolences to President Hernandez and his family.
Bad weather in the country’s central region was the probable cause of the helicopter going down, which according to the armed forces was new, had few hours of flight time and was one of the aircraft seized for its intended use for drug trafficking.
The helicopter, an Ecuriel AS350 B3, license 905, assigned to Hernan Acosta Mejia Air Base in Tegucigalpa, took off at 9:34 am.
Hilda Hernandez had retired as minister early last January to dedicate her time to working on the political campaign of her brother, the Honduran president, for the general elections on Nov. 26.
She was also coordinator of the Honduras Country Brand, a government project to promote the nation abroad in order to attract tourists and investments.
According to reports from the Toncontin control tower, at 9:47 am a message from the helicopter said “it had climbed to 10,000 feet (some 3,000 meters) and was 11 nautical miles west of the capital’s airport,” according to an armed forces report before the aircraft was found.
The helicopter was expected to arrive around 9:55 am at the city of Comayagua in the like-named province of central Honduras.