Mexican governor, senator killed in helicopter crash

A Mexican governor and a senator were killed in a deadly helicopter crash on Monday, prompting rumors of a targeted assassination on social media.

Puebla governor Martha Erika Alonso died on Christmas Eve when the Agusta 109 she was flying in crashed en route to Mexico City in a cornfield 3.5 miles north of Puebla city. Also killed was Alonso’s husband, ex-Gov. Rafael Moreno Valle, a prominent senator from the center-right National Action Party (PAN) who recently lost a bid for his party’s leadership.

“May they rest in peace; (the PAN) is in mourning,” PAN president Marko Cortes wrote on Twitter.

An unidentified third passenger and two pilots were also killed in the accident.

Follow-on investigation

The cause of the Christmas Eve crash remains undetermined. The companies who manufactured the aircraft and its engine will participate in ongoing investigations, although it is too early to tell if mechanical problems contributed to the disaster.

There is also no word yet if pilot error led to the crash. Both pilots were described as experienced aviators, though one of them was said to have spent most of his time flying fixed-wing aircraft. State spokesman Maximiliano Cortazar promised a “transparent, impartial and independent” investigation.

Mexican authorities have reached out to experts from the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board for help in determining a cause for the crash. Mexico’s assistant transportation secretary said that the invitation was “to leave no doubts” about the cause of the crash after foul play allegations were raised by the public.

Images from the crash scene show smoldering debris lying in a scorched field.

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Rumors of foul play

Alonso was sworn in 10 days ago after a hotly-contested election in the central Mexican state. President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s leftist Morena Party challenges the legitimacy of the election, charging that Valle manipulated the vote to hand power to his wife.

Alonso’s untimely death has generated accusations of a political coup from citizens after the Moreno Party tried so hard to unseat the governor-elect. Therefore, the government says it is taking pains to conduct a transparent investigation that will dismiss any allegations of foul play.

President Obrador offered his “deepest condolences” to the family of the deceased in a Twitter message posted Monday evening.

The unexpected deaths have shaken Mexico’s political establishment. Scores of government agencies and former and current elected officials expressed their condolences on social media over the Christmas holiday.

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