Honduran president’s sister dies in helicopter crash

TEGUCIGALPA : A sister of Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez died Saturday when the helicopter she was riding in crashed into a mountain near the capital, in an incident that killed five others.

“God has in his bosom Hilda Hernandez, tireless fighter of the National Party,” the ruling party’s president Reinaldo Sanchez tweeted in confirming the tragedy. The AS35 B-3 Honduran Air Force helicopter had taken off from the capital’s Toncontin airport and it went off the radar due to adverse weather conditions. “No survivors were found” at the crash site on Yerbabuena Mountain, the armed forces said in a statement.

The other victims of the crash were pilot lieutenant Ivan Vasquez Portillo, co-pilot second lieutenant Gerson Diaz Nolasco, Army captain Patricia Valladares and two members of the minister’s security detail: Nahum Lagos and Marcos Banegas. The 51-year-old communications minister had also served on the campaign team of her brother.


, who is locked in a controversial bid for reelection.

The Supreme Electoral Tribunal has yet to declare a winner in the hotly contested election, held nearly three weeks ago, amid heightened political tensions. After learning of his sister’s death, the president posted a photograph of her and an image of a black ribbon on his Twitter account, without any additional message or comment.

“We send our solidarity and condolences to the president and his family,” said former president Manuel Zelaya, who is leading the opposition leftist alliance that has claimed victory in the elections for its candidate, television host Salvador Nasralla. Election authorities are reviewing and recounting votes before giving a final verdict on the result after the opposition claimed fraud.

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