An Ecuadoran army plane has crashed in the Amazon rainforest, killing all 22 people on board, President Rafael Correa said.
“There are no survivors,” Correa wrote on Twitter, several minutes after first posting news of the crash yesterday. “This is a tragedy.”
He said the plane was carrying 19 paratroopers, two pilots and a mechanic. The plane went down in the eastern province of Pastaza, near the border with Peru.
Defense Minister Ricardo Patino said he was on his way to the scene.
“General Luis Castro is personally leading the operation (to recover remains). Everyone distressed by loss of our fallen brothers,” Patino said on Twitter. The army said the plane was carrying soldiers for a parachuting master class when it crashed. “The plane is completely destroyed and the wings were scattered” across the area,” said Jesse Guevara, a student of the Pastaza aviation school who reached the crash site. In March 2015, an Ecuador air force school plane crashed in the southwestern coastal town of Salinas, killing two pilots.
There have been four military helicopter accidents since 2009, among them a presidential aircraft purchased from India, killing three people.