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Ecuadorean defense minister dies in helicopter crash

Ecuadorean defense minister dies in helicopter crash

The defense minister died in a helicopter crash on Wednesday just 9 days after becoming Ecuador's first female defense chief, officials said.
Defense Minister Guadalupe Larriva was on board one of two helicopters that collided in the port city of Manta, government spokeswoman Monica Chuji told The Associated Press. The 50-year-old minister, her daughter Claudia Avila, 17, the pilot and a co-pilot were confirmed dead.
More details were not immediately available about the crash near the military base in Manta, 260 kilometers southeast of the Ecuadorean capital of Quito. It was not clear who else was on board the helicopters.
"We can confirm the death of the minister, of one of her children and two pilots in the crash of two helicopters," Chuji said.
Appointed by fledgeling President Rafael Correa, Larriva took office on Jan. 15 to became not only Ecuador's first female defense chief but also the first to never previously served in the military.
In a short statement aired on Canal 1, Correa told "the Ecuadorean people to pray for Guadalupe, her daughter, the pilots, for her family members, for the government of Ecuador."
A strong police guard was in place at the crash site and rescue crews were at work Wednesday evening, according to local media reports.
Correa appointed seven women to his Cabinet, saying he wanted to promote gender equality in his South American nation.
Larriva shook off concerns about resistance from the military. Before taking office, the then-Socialist Party president said she expected more "curiosity" than animosity from Ecuador's military brass "over whether a woman can lead in this role."


Updated : 2021-08-04 01:20 GMT+08:00