An helicopter carrying Bolivia’s President Evo Morales made an emergency landing Monday due to a mechanical problem, the military said, raising suspicions among his supporters after opponents vowed to oust him.
No one was hurt, the air force said, but the incident fuelled tensions in the country where protesters have been rallying against the leftist president for two weeks following his disputed re-election.
The mechanical glitch happened as the helicopter was taking off from a village in the Andes where Morales had been inaugurating a new road, it said. Video of the incident circulated on social media.
“Brothers, today, after opening the road in Colquiri, we had an incident with the helicopter that will be properly investigated,” Morales tweeted later after resuming work at government headquarters.
The air force said it was investigating the causes of the fault.
The EC-145 helicopter “had a mechanical fault in the tail rotor during take-off, which prompted an emergency landing,” the Bolivian Air Force said in a statement.
On Saturday, a conservative opposition leader in the eastern Santa Cruz region, Luis Fernando Camacho, threatened to “take decisive action” on Monday night to drive Morales from power.
Former interior minister Hugo Moldiz in a Twitter message branded the helicopter incident “a criminal attack.”
Morales has accused his opponents of plotting a coup against him.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, a staunch ally of Morales, tweeted his “deep solidarity and support for our Indian chief of the south, who has emerged unscathed from an air crash.
“The immortal spirit of our ancestors and liberators protect you. A hug, Brother President!”
Foreign Minister Diego Pary condemned what he said was an ongoing coup d’etat in the country in a speech to an extraordinary session of the Organization of American States’ (OAS) permanent council in Washington.
“The selective aggression of citizens and the security forces, the call on the Armed Forces and the National Police to rise up, and finally the call under threat to President Evo Morales to leave the government in 48 hours, are clear evidence that there is a coup d’etat on the way that aims to break Bolivia’s democratic life leading to chaos and confrontation between Bolivians,” Pary said.
Deadly unrest has gripped the South American country since Morales was named the winner of an election on October 20 for a fourth term.
His opponents have branded the result a fraud, citing alleged irregularities in the vote count.
Morales’s rival in the polls, Carlos Mesa, has called for a new vote to be held.
Demonstrators returned to block roads in the capital La Paz on Monday in fresh protests.
In his address to supporters on Saturday, Camacho called on the military to “be on the side of the people.”
Morales responded by accusing his opponents of seeking bloodshed.
Interior Minister Carlos Romero said Monday the government had “absolute trust” in the armed forces.
Romero alleged on Sunday that “a violent confrontation is being prepared” for Monday night near the presidential palace in La Paz.
The young man adds that they were also ordered to carry out different killings.
When asked where they get the guns used for operations, Musa replied saying, ” Between me and God, in my presence a helicopter arrived and stopped half way on the sky, throwing guns. My boss, Oga Sirajo was receiving the guns over twenty of them tied with a cattle rope”.
He describes the helicopter as white in color, adding that the drop off took place in broad day light.
A helicopter crash-landed on top of a high-rise in midtown Manhattan on Monday, starting a fire and leaving one person dead as the entire building shook from the impact.
“There was a helicopter hard landing on the roof of 787 7th Avenue in Midtown Manhattan,” the New York Police Department tweeted as emergency services flooded the area.
“The fire has been extinguished, and members continue to operate in response to fuel leaking from the helicopter. There is currently one fatality reported,” tweeted the city’s fire department.
President Donald Trump said he had been kept informed of the situation.
“I have been briefed on the helicopter crash in New York City. Phenomenal job by our GREAT First Responders who are currently on the scene. THANK YOU for all you do 24/7/365! The Trump Administration stands ready should you need anything at all,” Trump tweeted.
Speaking at the scene, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo told reporters there had been “casualties” on board the helicopter — suggesting the pilot was the person killed — and that a fire briefly broke out, but that no one in the building had been hurt.
“The preliminary information is that there was a helicopter that made a forced landing, emergency landing, or landed on the roof of the building for one reason or another,” Cuomo said.
‘Whole building’ shifted
“People who were in the building said they felt the building shake,” the governor added.
That was confirmed by Nathan Hutton, who works in the building on the 29th floor.
“We felt the whole building shift. We thought it was an earthquake or something like that. Something small like that. Then two minutes after, the alarms went off and then security came in: ‘Everybody just grab your bag and walk out the door now!'” Hutton told AFP.
He said there was no panic, but going down the stairs “was scary because everybody from all the floors” was descending “all at the same time” — a process that took half an hour.
“There was no shouting but a little nervousness, with the occasional, ‘C’mon, move!” he added.
The city fire department urged people to avoid the area.
Five people died after a helicopter plunged into Manhattan’s east river near the upscale Upper East Side neighborhood in March 2018.
The chopper, which was owned by tourism group Liberty, was carrying six people including the pilot, who managed to free himself. The other five did not.
That crash led US aviation authorities to review regulations for so-called “doors off” flights, which provide passengers with a more direct view of the skyline than flights with the aircraft’s doors shut.
The Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) has released a preliminary report of an investigation into the helicopter crash involving Agusta Westland W 139 Caverton Helicopters which flew Vice President Yemi Osinbajo to Kabba in Kogi State.
In the report released on Wednesday, the AIB said the crew lost visual contact with the ground at about 50 feet owing to a brownout – (dust generated when landing on a sandy area) – that enveloped the helicopter.
According to the agency, the helicopter experienced a hard landing and consequently rolled over.
While the AIB says the investigation into the crash is still ongoing, the Commissioner and Chief Executive Officer, Akin Olateru, gave two safety recommendations to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and the operator, Caverton Helicopters Limited.
Olateru asked the NCAA to issue an advisory circular to helicopter operators on the effects of brown out and how to mitigate its effects.
Secondly, he asked Caverton Helicopters to carry out proper risk analysis and assessment before operating flights into unapproved landing pad.
The chopper carrying the Vice President, his entourage and three crew members, had crash-landed at the Kaaba Stadium on February 2.
“On Friday, we went to (RCCG) camp; usually, I attend our Holy Ghost service. We came in very late from Akwa Ibom State. We arrived just in time for the grace at the end of the service. After that, our daddy in the Lord, (G.O) Pastor Adeboye, wanted to speak to me.
“He asked me how things were going on, the campaign activities and all that, and I explained everything; what I was doing on the campaign trail and all of that, some of the challenges. He (Adeboye) then said I am going to pray for you.
“He said a prayer that turned out to be very interesting because usually, as you know, he doesn’t pray for long.
“He said “Lord God Almighty, I want you to protect this man. You know how very dear he is to my heart. I want you to protect him. I found it very funny that he repeated it several times and then he prayed for a favour and other things,” VP Osinbajo narrated.
He went on to testify of how the helicopter conveying him and his team to a campaign rally in Kogi crash-landed with everyone coming out unhurt.
He thanked God for sparing his life and that of the others who were on board.
Also speaking on the matter, the Senior Special Assistant to the VP on Media and Publicity, Laolu Akande, thanked God for safety, and also thanked Nigerians for their concern and prayers.
He said, “We are thankful to God for his deliverance and safety. The Vice President is not only thankful to God, but to all Nigerians who have expressed concern, affection and prayers.
“The Vice President is continuing with his schedule in Kogi and from there, he will go back to Abuja, and go to other places, to continue his ‘Next Level’ engagements with Nigerians”.
A full-scale investigation and report are expected within the coming days.
An Afghan army helicopter carrying 25 people crashed in western Afghanistan on Wednesday, killing all those on board, officials said.
The aircraft crashed due to “bad weather” in Anar Dara district, which borders Iran, Farah provincial governor spokesman Nasir Mehri said.
The Taliban claimed its militants brought it down.
Both pilots and 23 passengers were killed.
Among the dead were the deputy army corps commander for western Afghanistan and the head of the Farah provincial council, Mehri said.
Provincial council member Dadullah Qaneh said the helicopter hit a mountain peak in poor weather en route to neighbouring Herat province.
Senior government and military officials often travel by helicopter in regions where the Taliban has a large presence.
Helicopter crashes are not uncommon in the mountainous, war-torn country.
In September, an Afghan military helicopter carrying weapons and ammunition burst into flames during an “emergency landing” in Farah, killing at least four people.
Earlier that month at least 12 people were killed, including two Ukrainians, when a helicopter owned by a Moldovan company crashed in the northern province of Balkh.
The aircraft also was carrying munitions and exploded on impact, Afghan officials said.
Western forces have been rebuilding Afghanistan’s air force, which was decimated by the civil war of the 1990s and the turbulent period of Taliban rule that ended in 2001.
NATO’s Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan has been training pilots and ground controllers across the country as part of a modernisation effort.
US Forces’ officials told AFP in February that Afghanistan’s air force includes four C-130 transport aircraft, 24 C-208 supply planes, 24 Russian Mi-17 helicopters that will be replaced by 159 UH-60 Black Hawks, 12 A-29 Super Tacano attack planes, and 25 MD-530 attack helicopters.