Mexico Earthquake: Helicopter Surveying Damage Kills 13 In Crash

A helicopter attempting to survey damage from a major earthquake in Mexico crashed and killed 13 people on Friday, authorities said.

The military helicopter, about 22 miles away from the epicenter of the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that struck Mexico Friday evening, crashed into two vans and killed 12 people immediately, while an additional person died later at the hospital. The helicopter was carrying senior government officials, including the interior minister, who were not injured.

Alfonso Navarrete, the Mexican interior minister, told local media that the pilot lost control of the helicopter.

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto wrote on Twitter that Navarrete and the governor of Oaxaca were not injured. "Unfortunately, many other people on the ground lost their lives and others were injured. My condolences for their families and my best wishes for speedy recoveries for those injured."

El Secretario @navarreteprida, el Gobernador @alejandromurat y la tripulación se encuentran bien. Lamentablemente, varias personas en tierra perdieron la vida y otras resultaron heridas. Mis condolencias para sus familiares y mis deseos de pronta recuperación a los lesionados.

— Enrique Peña Nieto (@EPN) February 17, 2018

So far, no deaths have been reported as a result of the quake itself. The earthquake hit just before 6 p.m. local time on the country's southern coast, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. A 5.8 magnitude aftershock hit an hour later.

Mexico's latest series of earthquakes –– one in Chiapas and one in Mexico City in September –– left hundreds of people dead, thousands injured and the country reeling. The first of the two, on September 7, measured at an 8.2 on the Richter Scale, and the second, on September 19, measured at 7.1. Friday's quake in Oaxaca could be felt all the way in Mexico City, 225 miles away.

Mexico is a hotbed for earthquakes, because it sits on three large tectonic plates. And for Mexico City (where an earthquake with nearly the same magnitude as Friday's earthquake was far more deadly), its especially soft soil amplifies the effects of the tremors and leads to more damage.