Authorities in the central Colombian department of Tolima say the number of fatalities in Tuesday’s helicopter crash has risen to seven. Among the casualties is an army general.
According to media reports, two Bell 222 helicopters crashed into each other near the town of Chaparral where armed forces are carrying out operations to capture FARC leader “Alfonso Cano.”
Five of the helicopters’ passengers, all members of the military, died instantly, while two of the victims died of their injuries after being taken to a hospital.
Among the victims are one general and one corporal.
“One of the helicopters had been tanking and took off without noticing the arrival of the other,” a witness to the accident told reporters.
President Alvaro Uribe expressed his grief over the loss of the soldiers.
“It hurts us deeply. Because of the sacrifice of the soldiers and policemen of Colombia, this country has improved,” Uribe said while speaking at the Universidad Autonoma de Occidente in Cali.
A team of inspectors was sent to the scene to investigate the accident.