Santiago — The helicopter that former Chilean president Sebastian Pinera was piloting when he died in an accident on Tuesday was rescued on Saturday from the depths of Lake Ranco, in southern Chile, the national prosecutor’s office reported.
The prosecution sent images of the aircraft to the media after it was announced last night that this rescue would be carried out on Saturday as part of the investigation into the death of the former president.
The authorities reported that it would be a private company, Oxxean, under the custody of the Navy, that would carry out the refloating. Now the aircraft will be delivered to the General Directorate of Civil Aeronautics (DGAC), who will be in charge of packaging and transporting it by land to the Metropolitan Region, as evidence of the investigation.
“They (DGAC) are going to take charge through different procedures and in particular examining the aircraft to be able to determine the causes and origin of this unfortunate accident,” the Regional Prosecutor of Los Rios, Tatiana Esquivel, later told the media.
The helicopter could be extracted “practically complete,” although it must be considered that “it capsized in the water,” Esquivel explained. The focus of this day was to be able to extract the machine “in the best possible conditions,” he added, confirming that the expert reports will be carried out in Chile.
It was submerged 28 meters deep in Lake Ranco, about 900 kilometers south of Santiago, the area where it fell shortly after taking off on Tuesday, causing the death of Pinera and leaving three survivors who were able to swim out.
The same prosecutor’s office determined on Wednesday that Pinera died from “asphyxiation due to submersion,” ruling out other hypotheses such as suffering a heart attack.
Pinera was an experienced helicopter pilot. The former president knew the area well, since he had a summer residence there that he frequented and where he practiced adventure sports, one of his hobbies.
Businessman and owner of one of the largest fortunes in the country, he was twice president of Chile, the first time between 2010 and 2014, a mandate remembered for the reconstruction after the great earthquake of 2010 and the spectacular rescue of the 33 miners.
He was re-elected for the period 2018-2022, an administration marked by the management of the social outbreak of 2019, in which he received much criticism for the serious violations of human rights committed in the repression of the demonstrations. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Chile had some of the longest curfews and confinements and at the same time was among the five countries with the highest vaccination rate in the world.
Chile declared three days of national mourning for the death of the former president. Thousands of Chileans passed by his wake to pay tribute to him during the state funeral.
1/7 | Photos: the visit of former Chilean president Sebastian Pinera to Puerto Rico. On May 18, 2015, the former president of Chile, Sebastian Pinera, arrived in Puerto Rico to take part in the “Puerto Rico Investment Summit”, an event whose purpose was to publicize the importance of investing in the archipelago.
– Angel M. Rivera / STAFF