Helicopter crash claims Mexico's interior minister

McClatchy NewspapersNovember 11, 2011 

MEXICO CITY — Interior Minister Francisco Blake Mora and seven other people died Friday in a helicopter crash in the southern part of the Mexican capital, the government said.

It was the second time that one of President Felipe Calderon's interior ministers had been killed in an air crash over Mexico City.

There was no immediate word on a possible cause for the crash.

Blake Mora was traveling to the nearby city of Cuernavaca, where he was scheduled to meet with local law enforcement officials, when the crash occurred shortly after 9 a.m.

"Unfortunately, the interior minister, his aides and the crew all were found without life," national security spokeswoman Alejandra Sota announced.

Sota said the aircraft fell in the Xochimilco district of canals, a well-known tourist landmark in the capital.

A lawyer by training, Blake Mora, 45, was a native of Tijuana in Baja California state and had served in a variety of state offices before becoming Calderon's interior minister.

The previous interior minister, Juan Camilo Mourino, died Nov. 4, 2008, when his aircraft fell in a busy street in an upscale district of Mexico City less than a mile from the presidential palace. In all, 14 people, including six people on the ground, died in that crash.

Calderon rushed from Los Pinos, the presidential palace, to be at the side of Blake's wife.

"Mexico today has lost a great patriot and I have lost a great friend," Calderon said in a message to the nation. "I will miss Blake very much ... just as happened to me with Juan Camilo Mourino."

Calderon said his government would launch a comprehensive inquiry into the causes of the accident, although he suggested that it was probably weather-related.

"The cloudy conditions at that hour make one think of an accident. Nontheless, all circumstances will be examined thoroughly," he said.

The other victims in the crash were Felipe de Jesus Zamora, deputy secretary of human rights and legal matters, two other members of Blake Mora's staff, and the helicopter's four-man military crew.

Curiously, the last tweet Blake Mora sent from his Twitter account was a week ago, noting the anniversary of his predecesser's death: "Today we remember Juan Camilo Mourino three years after his passing, a human being who worked to build a better Mexico."

A black bow was placed at the entrance of the ruling National Action Party's headquarters, and the Chamber of Deputies stopped activities to honor Blake Mora and the other victims with a minute of silence.

The crash cost Mexico "a democrat with proven convictions, a father and an exemplary husband," legislator Jose Ramon Martel Lopez said.

Perhaps drawing on a propensity of Mexicans to see secret forces at work in the functioning of their government, a Workers Party legislator, Pedro Vazquez Gonzalez, called on the government to delve deeply into the cause of the accident so that Mexico "will know the truth about this lamentable event."

(Moreno is a McClatchy special correspondent. Johnson reported from Chicago.)

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