Guatemala Minister
In this Jan 10, 2008 file photo, Guatemala's Interior Minister Vinicio Gomez is seen during a ceremony in Guatemala City, Jan. 10.
updated 6/28/2008 12:51:04 AM ET 2008-06-28T04:51:04

A helicopter crash killed Guatemala's interior minister and three other people on Friday.

The helicopter went down in a wooded area in northern Guatemala, presidential spokesman Ronaldo Robles told The Associated Press. All on board were killed: Interior Minister Vinicio Gomez, Vice Interior Minister Edgar Hernandez, the pilot and one other passenger.

"The government is distraught and regrets the death of a key minister, who had done good work in a few months in office," Robles said.

The Bell 206 chopper took off from the northern town of Flores and crashed about 60 miles to the south. The cause of the accident was not known, but the area had been blanketed in fog and heavy rain.

The helicopter lost radio and radar contact about an hour after take off, said army spokesman Jorge Ortega.

Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom was in Mexico for a regional summit, and was expected to return to Guatemala early Saturday for the funeral services.

"The minister had been doing good work," said Fernando Barrillas, a spokesman traveling with the president, adding that both Cabinet officials were "total confidants of President Colom."

Gomez, a dental surgeon by training, was appointed interior minister when Colom took office five months ago. He had a long career in public service and was vice interior minister in the previous government.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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