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16 Jan, 2024 14:17

Plane crashes on highway in Chile (VIDEO)

A pilot was killed and several others injured when the aircraft hit a power line while on a firefighting mission
Plane crashes on highway in Chile (VIDEO)

A light aircraft burst into flames and crashed onto a highway in central Chile yesterday, killing its pilot instantly and injuring three people on the ground, local authorities have confirmed.

Chile’s General Directorate of Civilian Aeronautics said an Ayres Trush S2R-T aircraft belonging to Air Andes SPA crashed around 4:30pm local time on a highway near the Panguilemo airfield in the city of Talca while conducting a firefighting operation.

It later added that the pilot, who was the only one on board, died as a result of injuries sustained in the accident. It expressed condolences to his family.

The Crisis 24 website reported that traffic in the area had come to a complete standstill. The cause of the incident remains unclear.

Videos of the crash have gone viral on social media, showing the propeller aircraft flying at an extremely low altitude over the highway. The plane then hit a high-voltage power line with one of its wings, causing it to lose control, with liquid seen gushing out of its fuselage. As the plane went into a spin, it burst into a fireball and smashed directly on the road, sending plumes of black smoke into the air.

The National Forestry Corporation (CONAF) identified the deceased pilot as Fernando Solans, a Spanish national who was helping to combat fires. It added that three people on the ground had been injured in the accident.

The organization said Solans had become a part of the legacy of “martyrs who have given their lives to safeguard the heritage of our country and protect the lives of its inhabitants.”

Chilean President Gabriel Boric also expressed his condolences. “Every year, thousands of people take on the difficult but noble task of fighting forest fires. Today, we have to mourn the death of the pilot Fernando Solans who provided services to [CONAF],” he wrote on X (formerly Twitter).

In recent weeks, Chilean authorities have been battling wildfires, issuing evacuation orders for hundreds of people. According to CONAF, the 2023-2024 season set a record of more than 1,700 fires in the country, affecting around 15,000 hectares of land.