World / Latin America

Military plane crashes in Ecuador, killing 22

Updated: 2016-03-16 09:29

QUITO - A military aircraft crashed in the Ecuadorian eastern province of Pastaza, killing all 22 people on board, military authorities said on Tuesday.

The accident occurred at around 2:30 pm local time(1930 GMT), when the soldiers were to conduct a parachuting exercise, the Defense Ministry of Ecuador said in a statement.

The pilot radioed the airport, asking for permission to return due to adverse weather conditions. The contact was lost shortly afterwards, according to Social Communication Department of the Ecuadorian Army.

Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa confirmed the crash on his official Twitter account. "There are no survivors. 22 soldiers of our country left us," he said, describing the event as a "tragedy."

An Arava plane, belonging to the Ecuadorian Airforce, took off from the Shell airport in Pastaza at 12:51 pm local time.

The plane was carrying a contingent of 19 paratroopers, two pilots, and one mechanic.

The plane crashed near the town of La Palestra, and two airforce helicopters were dispatched to search for it. Defense Minister Ricardo Patino also rushed to the scene.

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