PARAGUAYAN ARMED FORCES HELICOPTER CRASHES ON BRAZILIAN BORDER
A Paraguayan Armed Forces helicopter crashed and caught fire yesterday afternoon in Pedro Juan Caballero as he was returning from a joint operation of that country's National Anti-Drug Secretariat (Senad) with Brazilian police forces to fight drug trafficking at the border.
The aircraft crashed into a syringe and health care depot next to the Senad building, a few miles from the Brazilian border. According to Senad, the ten people on board – four Air Force crew and six Air Force agents – escaped alive.
The helicopter returned to base after completing the operation, when it lost power and crashed. The deposit burned down and the occupants managed to get out, but some inhaled the toxic smoke and were sent to a hospital.
Pedro Juan Caballero firefighters called for support to military firefighters from Ponta Pora, a Brazilian city across the border in Mato Grosso do Sul, to fight the flames.
According to Senad Minister Arnaldo Giuzzio, the aircraft was piloted by Officer Lilian Mosqueira, the first female pilot of the Armed Forces in Paraguay.
After the accident, President Mario Abdo Benitez posted on his Twitter account that he spoke with Lilian and she confirmed that all occupants of the helicopter were safe and only sustained minor injuries.
The building hit by the aircraft was virtually destroyed by flames. Paraguayan authorities will investigate the causes of the accident.