Chile’s ex-president Sebastian Pinera dies in helicopter crash
By TOI Desk Report February 7, 2024 Update on : February 7, 2024
Sebastian Pinera, the two-time former president, died Tuesday in a helicopter accident. He was 74.
Interior Minister Carolina Toha confirmed the death of the former president in a press conference on Tuesday, but he did not release further details immediately about the cause of the accident, reports the Associated Press.
Sebastian Pinera, 74, had faced social upheaval followed by a pandemic in his second term.
The helicopter carrying Sebastian Pinera and three others went down in a lake in the Region de Los Lagos in southern Chile, reports Reuters.
The former president was trapped in the wreckage, but he was declared dead shortly after rescue personnel arrived at the scene. Later rescue services recovered his body.
Interior Minister Carolina Toha also confirmed that his body had been recovered from the lake, near the town of Lago Ranco.
However, the other three passengers were injured and managed to swim to the shore.
According to the Reuters report, Pinera was the pilot, although officials have not confirmed that, nor the helicopter’s intended destination.
Two sources told the former president often spent the Southern Hemisphere summers near the picturesque lakes and frequently piloted his own helicopter.
Meanwhile, the current President Gabriel Boric has declared three days of national mourning. Preparations have started for a state funeral on Friday for the former leader, who served the country between 2010 and 2022.
Pinera was perhaps best known abroad for his role in the remarkable rescue of 33 miners who were trapped beneath the Atacama desert in 2010.
The event created a worldwide media sensation and was the subject of the 2014 film titled “The 33.”
He was known as a successful businessman in Chile.
Pinera remained active in politics after leaving the presidency, speaking out on issues like the attempt to draft a new constitution.
Former Argentine President Mauricio Macri expressed his sorrow at the tragic demise of Pinera.
Pinera, the son of a prominent centrist politician, was a Harvard-trained economist who made his fortune introducing credit cards to Chile in the 1980s.
Pinera was also a major shareholder in the flagship airline, formerly known as LAN, the local soccer team Colo-Colo, and a television station.
The billionaire brought Chile’s political right wing out from the shadow of the former dictator.