Thirteen people, including a dozen firefighters, were killed Sunday when a helicopter crashed in a region of south-central Chile that is grappling with a rash of forest fires, regional authorities said, according to Reuters, New York Times.
The helicopter, which belongs to Celco, a forestry company that is owned by the conglomerate Empresas Copec, crashed in the Maule region about 185 miles south of Santiago, the capital.
“They are 12 firefighters, aged around 18 to 30, as well as the pilot,” María Angélica Sáez, the governor of Cauquenes Province, told the local news media as she revised the death toll down from 14.
“They belong to the company Celco Constitución,” she said. “They are youths who work during the season to try and pull together money to study. These are difficult times.”
A firefighter who went to the scene said that he and his team found two bodies about 50 yards from the wreckage. Parts of the helicopter were still burning, he said.
The National Forestry Corporation, Chile’s equivalent of a National Park Service, said the firefighters had been on their way to put out a fire at a eucalyptus plantation when the helicopter crashed.
An emergency official said that there was a dense mist in the area and that there was light rain at the time of the crash.