Mexico Helicopter Crash Caused by Foggy Weather, Government Says

A Mexican helicopter crash that killed the country’s second-highest official and seven other people was caused by foggy weather and not sabotage, the government said.

The helicopter, which was carrying Interior Minister Francisco Blake Mora from Mexico City to a prosecutors’ meeting in the central city of Cuernavaca on Nov. 11, crashed in one piece, Communications and Transportation Minister Dionisio Perez-Jacome said. Radar readings show the pilot didn’t lose control of the chopper, he said.

“The helicopter crashed while flying in a straight line and in clouds,” Perez-Jacome said in a televised press conference in Mexico City yesterday. “There is no evidence of damage from explosion or fire.”

Perez-Jacome was making his third public comments since the incident to downplay the theory that Blake Mora, the administration’s second interior minister to die in an aviation accident, may have been the victim of an assassination attempt.

Initial concerns that the official’s death signaled an escalation of drug-cartel violence erased gains in the Mexican peso on Nov. 11, leading the currency to its second weekly decline as it closed little changed on the day.

A team of 16 experts, including members of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration, are working on the investigation, Perez-Jacome said. The Eurocopter Super Puma, built in 1984 and acquired by the government in 1985, underwent maintenance work on Nov. 4 and 5 and was “airworthy,” he said.

Technical Problems

Helicopter co-pilot Pedro Escobar told his family prior to the crash that the chopper was having technical problems, Mexico City-based daily El Universal reported.

President Felipe Calderon called Blake Mora, 45, “one of my closest collaborators and dearest friends” at the official’s Nov. 12 funeral service in Mexico City.

The Mexican leader praised Blake Mora’s work as coordinator of his security cabinet and said he promoted dialogue between public officials and victims of Mexico’s soaring drug-cartel violence.

Calderon said the nation had been tested by other tragedies and that the death of Blake Mora wouldn’t hold up progress in his government.

Blake Mora’s death comes three years after Interior Minister Juan Camilo Mourino died along with security officials when their Learjet plane crashed in a Mexico City neighborhood in 2008.

Drug War

Jose Luis Santiago Vasconcelos, who served as former President Vicente Fox’s top prosecutor against organized crime, also died in the crash, which killed 15 people. The government blamed the incident on pilot error.

The interior minister coordinates policy between Mexico’s security forces and oversees the administration’s relations with Congress, response to natural disasters and the monitoring of dissident groups.

Forty-five thousand Mexicans have been killed since 2006 and the drug war has cost the economy $120 billion in security expenditures and lost investment, according to Bulltick Capital Markets, a Miami-based investment firm that specializes in Latin America.

To contact the reporters on this story: Alex Emery in Lima at aemery1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Joshua Goodman at jgoodman19@bloomberg.net

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