Two killed in Mexican helicopter crash

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The death toll from a helicopter crash that followed a strong quake in southern Mexico rose to 14 yesterday, as the defence minister said the government assumed full responsibility.

A military helicopter carrying Mexico's interior minister crashed while surveying the damage from a 7.2-magnitude natural disaster, killing 13 people on the ground, prosecutors said Saturday.

Navarrete told local media that "as the army helicopter we were travelling in tried to land, the pilot lost control, the helicopter fell and flipped".

Authorities said 14 people were killed in all - up from an earlier toll of 13 - including a six-month-old baby and a 10-year-old girl.

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In a macabre twist of fate, residents of nearby town Santiago Jamiltepec had set up camp for the night in the field as they feared aftershocks could collapse their homes.

Interior Minister Alfonso Navarrete Prida and Oaxaca Gov. Alejandro Murat, who was also aboard the helicopter, survived the crash unharmed. "The defense ministry completely assumes its responsibility for what happened". All the victims were on the ground at the time of the accident, and fifteen people were injured.

While the quake did not cause any casualties, the crash has now left people shocked.

Another 15 people were injured in the accident.

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The U.S. Geological Survey originally put the magnitude of Friday's quake at 7.5 but later lowered it to 7.2.

A state government official said the chopper crashed into a group of people who had been spending the night outside after a powerful 7.2 magnitude natural disaster hit the area Friday in the early evening.

Mexico sits at a spot where five tectonic plates come together, making it particularly vulnerable to earthquakes.

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