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Wed, Nov 05, 2008

Two Mexican Officials Among Victims In Lear Downing

Plane Impacts Crowded Mexico City Neighborhood During Rush Hour

The rush hour downing of a Lear business jet into a crowded Mexico City neighborhood Tuesday claimed the lives of all onboard, including two prominent officials in the Mexican government.

The Houston Chronicle reports Interior Minister Juan Camilo Mourino and former Assistant Attorney General Jose Luis Santiago Vasconcelos died in the crash, along with six others onboard the small jet. The plane departed the northern city of San Luis Potosi, and was on approach to land at Mexico City International Airport.

Conflicting local media reports identify the accident type as either a Lear 24/25 series (shown below), or a larger Learjet 45.

At least 40 persons on the ground were injured as the plane crashed in the affluent Lomas de Chapultepec neighborhood, and officials said the death toll could rise due to scores of people still missing.

Mourino and Santiago Vasconcelos were both top aides to Mexican President Felipe Calderon. The former was the president's top advisor in dealing with Mexico's tortured internal political structure.

"With his death Mexico loses a great Mexican, intelligent, loyal, committed to his ideals and to the country," said Calderon following the accident. "With Juan Camilo Mourino I shared for many years a fight for the ideal of a new country, the ideal of a new and better Mexico."

Santiago Vasconcelos was a top anti-narcotics official in former President Vicente Fox's administration, and retained a prominent role combating illegal drug cartels when he moved to the Attorney General's office in December 2006.

Officials say there is no reason to suspect foul play in the crash. There is presently no explanation for the cause of the accident.



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