State officials have reported that an Ecuadorean military plane has crashed in the Amazon rain forest near the capital of Quito on Tuesday.
While multiple reports have claimed that an unconfirmed number of passengers have died, Ecuador’s president, Rafael Correa, has since confirmed that there were no survivors in Tuesday’s aviation accident.
“22 soldiers of the fatherland have gone,” President Correa, confirmed via his official Twitter account. “A solidarity hug to family members and our armed forces. This is a tragedy.”
An Ecuadorian army official has confirmed that the Israeli-made Arava cargo plane was taking part in a parachute training when the aircraft came crashing down in the southeast jungle region of the Ecuadorean capital, which borders Peru, Tuesday.
President Correa has since expressed “deep sorrow” along with his Twitter statement and said he was waiting a full report before releasing further information on the incident.
Correa (49) most recently won an unprecedented third term in elections in 2013 and has served as president of Ecuador since 2007. He is considered among Ecuadorians as the strongest leader in decades and his approval rating have remained consistently above 50% throughout his presidency.
The cause of the crash has not been confirmed, but Defense Minister Ricardo Patino has informed the media that he, along with a rescue team, are on their way to the scene for further investigation. The flight included two pilots, a mechanic, and 19 paratroopers.
Ecuadorean military has had a recent trend of aviation crashes.
In 2009, two separate military incidents were the result of aviation accidents in or near Ecuador’s capital of Quito, both resulting in death of those on board.
In March of 2009, a Beechcraft aircraft carrying three Ecuadorean military men — a major, a captain, and a sergeant — crashed while attempting to land at the capital’s airport, setting a building on fire at a residential neighborhood in northern Quito.
In October of the same year, an Ecuadorean Air Force helicopter crashed during an exhibition at the Ecuadorean Air Force base in Quito that took place on the 89th anniversary of the foundation of the country’s Air Force.
Late last year, Ecuador also cancelled orders for Indian military choppers after a chain of crashes — four of the seven Indian-built Dhruv choppers wound up smashing into the ground.
In one specific incident, one of the choppers was assigned to transport the president of the country when it went down. Luckily he was not on board when the incident occurred.
It’s also noteworthy to point out that Ecuador’s high altitude and enormous volcanoes have long made it a challenge for aviators to navigate when flying in the capital of Quito.
In recent years the capital has moved its airport to a less congested area, but there are still concerns. The country’s beautiful but extreme geography consisting of three glacier-topped volcanoes that hug the capital, along with the ever-changing mountain weather, continues to pose concerning issues for pilots.
Whether or not these facts played into Tuesday’s incident has yet to be determined, but the series of accidents spark the conversation of the safety of flying in Ecuador’s capital along with the experience of the pilots that were piloting the aircrafts that have crashed.
(AP Photo/Dolores Ochoa)