In Panama City, everybody is alarmed by a horrible accident that happened in the middle of the city in an area known as Calidonia. At approximately 2:00 p.m. (-5 GMT) a government helicopter crashed into a three-story building in the capital.
Chile top police chief, General Jose Alejandro Bernales and his wife, together with his military aides, died in the crash. On the Panama side, María Angélica de Celis, police director of Human Resources and Gerardo Polanco, deputy police chief, also died at the accident scene.
At this moment, there is total chaos in the neighborhood of the crash as the Panama firemen try to suffocate the flames. The crashed building is a clothes deposit. The total number of persons killed is presently unknown. The cause of the accident is also unknown.
Chilean President Michelle Bachelet suspended a tour of northern Chile and is rushing back to Santiago. In Panama, the Chilean consul said the police chief was taken to a hospital but could not be saved. In Chile, flags are being lowered to half-staff. Bernales was 59.
Panama President, Martin Torrijos, contacted Chile’s President Bachelet by telephone to express his condolences and explain the known circumstances surrounding the accident.
There is a very deep sense of loss in the country due to this terribly tragedy.