QUITO – The bodies of three soldiers who died in a helicopter crash in Ecuador’s central highlands were recovered Friday by specialized teams and will be taken to Quito.
The Defense Ministry said in a communique that the victims were taken to the town of Riobamba for legal procedures and are expected to be taken later to the capital.
In Quito, the soldiers will receive military honors in a funeral chapel being prepared at Mariscal Sucre Airbase.
The fatalities were Lt. Jorge Luis Flores, Capt. Hector Caicedo and Sgt. Cristhian Unda, who lost their lives when their Dhruv 601 helicopter went down.
Injured in the accident was Capt. Fabian Pazos Narvaez, now in a medical center at the coastal city of Guayaquil in stable condition, the ministry said.
The helicopter that crashed was one of those used by President Rafael Correa on his trips, though not the only one, Defense Minister Maria Fernanda Espinosa said in comments cited by the Web edition of state-owned daily El Telegrafo.
The president expressed his condolences Thursday for the tragedy and said those who died “anticipated their encounter with eternity in doing their duty.”
“This touches me very personally because Hector (Caicedo) was a dear friend, he was the pilot of the presidential helicopter,” Correa said.
An investigative board is at the scene of the crash to determine the causes.