Chilean ex-President and billionaire business tycoon Sebastián Piñera has died in a helicopter crash at the age of 74. He served two presidential terms, the first from March 2010 to March 2014, and the second from March 2018 to March 2022. The crash took place at around 15:30 local time on Tuesday (18:30 GMT), in South Chile, at a popular vacation spot known as Lago Ranco.
The three other passengers aboard the helicopter - his sister, a friend, and a friend’s son - survived. According to reports published in local Chilean media, the helicopter crashed while Piñera was still on board. The three other individuals on the helicopter were able to jump off it and make it to shore.
Piñera often used his private helicopter for his travels around the region. Official reports have shown that he was piloting the helicopter when it crashed. An aviation expert named Eddie Miceli has told CNN that the ex-president was “an excellent pilot”.
The exact cause of the helicopter crashing is unclear, and investigations are being carried out. However, weather conditions were not favourable, with rain and considerable cloud for the duration of his journey.
Magdalena Piñera, the ex-President’s sister and one of the survivors of the crash has come forward to say that her brother “was a great man, a generous and courageous man”.
In the day since this tragic death took place, national mourning has been declared in Chile and tributes have poured in from varying parties. His body will be flown into Santiago, the capital of Chile, where a state funeral will be held. The funeral will be held on Friday.
His first term of Presidency was relatively successful. He oversaw economic growth and a steep drop in unemployment rates. This was at a time when many of Chile’s trade partners and neighbours were suffering from far slower economic growth. During this term he received enormous international recognition for the rescue of 33 miners trapped for 69 days at the bottom of a mine in the Atacama desert. The event also became a global media sensation.
His second Presidency, however, was characterised by violence and protests. The citizens were protesting against human rights violations accusations. This eventually resulted in the government vowing to draft a new constitution.
Edited by: Megha Siddapura Manjunatha
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