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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 17 December 2018

Sister of Honduras president among six killed in helicopter crash

Crash comes amid political upheaval with street protests about the results of the presidential election

Hilda Hernandez, sister of Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez, who was killed in a helicopter crash. Presidency Honduras/Handout via REUTERS
Hilda Hernandez, sister of Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez, who was killed in a helicopter crash. Presidency Honduras/Handout via REUTERS

The sister of Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez and five others died when the helicopter they were traveling in crashed on Saturday, the Honduran military said.

Hilda Hernandez, 51, was a close advisor to her brother, who is embroiled in political turmoil in the wake of a Nov. 26 presidential election, which remains unresolved. She was previously the government's communications secretary.

Two reconnaissance helicopters were sent to comb the missing Eurocopter AS350 Ecureuil helicopter's planned flight path from Toncontin international airport in capital city Tegucigalpa to Comayagua, some 50 miles (80 km) northwest, but because of inclement weather conditions land teams were sent in, the Honduran armed forces said in the statement.

"The remains of the aircraft were located and no survivors were found," the armed forces said, adding it would investigate the causes of the crash.

A government source, who asked not to be named said: "The six people aboard the aircraft, including Hilda Hernandez have been found dead."

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Read more:

Hondurans pour into streets to protest alleged fraud in presidential vote

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Honduras has been roiled by political instability following the presidential vote, with centre-left Salvador Nasralla, a TV star, trailing conservative incumbent Hernandez by 1.6 percentage points according to the official count. The tally has been questioned by the two main opposition parties and a wide swathe of the diplomatic corps.

Hundreds of people have been arrested during post-poll protests and at least 16 people have died, according to rights groups. Protests on Friday saw pro-Nasralla supporters erect burning barricades and throw rocks at security forces.