Argentina: fire fighting helicopter falls, 2 dead

BUENOS AIRES (AP) – A hydrant helicopter fighting forest fires in Argentina’s Neuquén province collapsed on Wednesday, killing its two crew members.

The aircraft crashed in the vicinity of the town of Aluminé, west of Neuquén, which along with other provinces of Patagonia is affected by fires that have devoured thousands of hectares. The deceased are the pilot and the mechanic of the device.

The Transportation Safety Board reported on its Twitter account the impact of the Bell 412 helicopter and noted that two different headquarters of the agency are investigating the incident.

The fire at the site of the incident started a few days ago during a thunderstorm with electrical activity and spread due to the drought.

More than 200 brigades and a dozen aircraft are trying to put out the fires that have affected different areas of the Patagonian provinces of Santa Cruz, Chubut, Río Negro and Neuquén -in southern Argentina- and Formosa, in the north for weeks, said the daily report of the National Fire Management Service.

The Federal Council for the Environment and the Ministry of the Environment have declared an “igneous emergency throughout the national territory” for one year due to the extreme risk of forest and grassland fires.

In Chile, several major fires have also been registered in the south-central area of ​​the country, in the central region of O’Higgins, and in the southern regions of Ñuble and La Araucanía.

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