22 killed in Ecuador military plane crash

Quito, March 16 (IANS) A military aircraft crashed in the Ecuadorian province of Pastaza, killing all 22 people on board, officials said.

The accident occurred on Tuesday when the soldiers were to conduct a parachuting exercise, the defense ministry of Ecuador said in a statement, Xinhua news agency reported.

The pilot radioed the airport, asking for permission to return due to adverse weather conditions. The contact was lost shortly afterwards, according to Social Communication Department of the Ecuadorian Army.

Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa confirmed the crash on his official Twitter account. “There are no survivors. 22 soldiers of our country left us,” he said, describing the event as a “tragedy. “

An Arava plane, belonging to the Ecuadorian Airforce, took off from the Shell airport in Pastaza.

The plane was carrying a contingent of 19 paratroopers, two pilots, and one mechanic.

The plane crashed near the town of La Palestra, and two airforce helicopters were dispatched to search for it. Defence Minister Ricardo Patino also rushed to the scene.

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