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Ecuadorean defense minister, daughter die in helicopter crash

Ecuadorean defense minister, daughter die in helicopter crash

Officials said Thursday they were calling in French and Brazilian experts to investigate a helicopter crash that killed Ecuador's first female defense minister, her daughter and five five members of the military.
Defense Minister Guadalupe Larriva, 50, had taken her post only on Jan. 15 with the inauguration of President Rafael Correa.
Government spokeswoman Monica Chuji said Thursday that soldiers would guard the site of Wednesday's crash in the port city of Manta until the investigative team can arrive.
"We want an exhaustive investigation of all the events and circumstances," she told reporters.
In a televised interview, Vice President Lenin Moreno said the French-built helicopters were performing a night flight test "and in a bad maneuver it appears that the blades collided and the helicopters fell to the ground."
The crash took place near the military base in Manta, 260 kilometers (160 miles) southeast of the capital of Quito.
No top ranking commanders were on board the helicopters, Moreno said.
A colonel, three captains and a lieutenant also died in the crash.
Larriva was Ecuador's first female defense chief and the first to have never 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."
No replacement was immediately named.
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."
Larrea announced the creation of a special investigative commission to look into the cause of the crash.
A teacher by vocation, Larriva rose through her party's ranks and served in congress.
She is survived by a daughter and son. Her husband Rodrigo Avila died eight years ago.


Updated : 2021-02-25 18:29 GMT+08:00