A Former Chilean President, Sebastian Pinera has died in an helicopter crash.
According to report, the helicopter carrying the conservative billionaire crashed in the Los Ríos region of southern Chile, a statement from his office on Tuesday stated.
The helicopter was carrying four people, three of whom survived the crash and are “out of danger,” the Chilean Minister of Interior Carolina Tohá said.
At the time of the crash, there was widespread rainfall in the area, but it is unclear if the weather caused the crash. Pinera’s body has been recovered by the Chilean navy.
Pinera, who was 74 years old, was Chile’s president from 2010 to 2014 and again from 2018 to 2022.
A state funeral will be held for the late leader, and Chilean President Gabriel Boric has declared three days of national mourning.
The country was already in a state of national mourning due to ongoing forest fires, believed to be the worst on record, that have killed more than 120 people.
Chile’s government “expresses its shock due to this tragedy, extends its hug in solidarity to the former president’s family, to those close to him, but also to all Chileans,” Tohá’s statement said.
Pinera was educated in Chile and at Harvard University in the United States. According to Forbes, the businessman-turned-politician was worth an estimated $2.7 billion.
He founded the credit card company Banco in the 1970s and, during his first stint as president, honored a promise to divest his assets, the magazine reported.
Pinera’s first term began in 2010 when he succeeded Michelle Bachelet, a popular president who steered the country through the global economic downturn.
His second term was punctuated by massive protests and riots, which shook the country in October 2019 as protesters demanded better pensions, better education, and the end to an economic system that they said favored the elite.
The unrest led then-outgoing President Pinera to agree to a popular vote about the need to change the constitution inherited from the dictatorship.
He also presided over the country’s Covid-19 pandemic response, where the Andean nation of 19 million saw one of the highest vaccination rates in the world.