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Guatemala army chief of staff dies in helicopter crash

Guatemalan army chief of staff Rudy Ortiz and four other military officers died on Wednesday (Aug 20) when their helicopter crashed in a mountainous region where drug traffickers operate, the government said.

GUATEMALA CITY: Guatemalan army chief of staff Rudy Ortiz and four other military officers died on Wednesday (Aug 20) when their helicopter crashed in a mountainous region where drug traffickers operate, the government said.

The crash occurred in the Huehuetenango department on the Mexican border as the officers carried out a routine inspection of the area, where unrest has also erupted over hydroelectric dams and mining projects, said Defence Minister Manuel Lopez.

The minister said bad weather had prevented Ortiz and the officers - another general and three colonels - from touching down at the base where they had planned to land.

The crash happened as they flew to another base in the area. "The cause is unknown," Lopez said. Rescue workers were still trying to reach the area, which was difficult to access. President Otto Perez expressed his "deep condolences" to the family and the army on Twitter.

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