Strong earthquake shakes Mexico, minister's helicopter crashes

Patients and staff remain outside the regional hospital during a powerful earthquake in Veracruz, Mexico on February 16, 2018. Mexico's National Seismological Service put the magnitude of the quake at 7.0, and seismic monitor network Sky Alert said the quake was felt across the states of Guerrero, Oaxaca and Puebla. / AFP PHOTO /
A 7.2-magnitude earthquake rattled Mexico Friday, causing little damage but triggering a tragedy when a minister's helicopter crash-landed on the way to the epicenter, killing two people on the ground.

The military helicopter was carrying Interior Minister Alfonso Navarrete and Oaxaca state Governor Alejandro Murat, who were unharmed, said President Enrique Pena Nieto. "Unfortunately, multiple people on the ground lost their lives and others were injured," he wrote on Twitter, sending his condolences to the families.

The Interior ministry said two people were killed in the accident. Video from the scene showed the white helicopter keeled over on its side in the dirt, a swarm of rescue workers around it.

Navarrete told the Televisa network that the helicopter pilot lost control of the aircraft about 40 meters above the ground as it was coming in to land. He said some passengers were hurt.

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The helicopter crashed in the southwestern town of Pinotepa de Don Luis - 37 kilometers (22 miles) from the epicenter, according to the US Geological Survey. Some 50 homes in the town of Santiago Jamiltepec sustained structural damage.

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