REPORTING FROM MEXICO CITY — Mexican Interior Minister Francisco Blake Mora, one of Mexico’s top security officials, and seven other people were killed this morning when a helicopter carrying them crashed outside Mexico City.
In a brief televised statement, government spokeswoman Alejandra Sota said Mexican authorities had located the helicopter and that Blake, 45, and the others were found “without life.”
Sota offered no immediate word on the possible cause, and urged patience while an official investigation takes place. Some media reports said the flight was troubled by fog and could not land. Images from a news helicopter showed limited visibility.
News that officials had lost contact with Blake’s helicopter began to circulate on the Twitter accounts of Mexican journalists by late morning.
Sota said the helicopter was bound for the city of Cuernavaca, south of Mexico City. News accounts said Blake was headed to a meeting with members of a judges’ association.
Televised images from above the scene showed remains of a destroyed helicopter, with debris scattered over a sloping field.
The crash is sure to stoke suspicion in conspiracy-minded Mexico.
One of Blake’s recent predecessors, Jose Camilo Mourino, died in a plane crash in Mexico City in 2008. Officials ruled the crash an accident, saying the Learjet 45 had been caught in turbulence caused by a larger aircraft as it descended to land at Mexico City’s airport.
Despite the official pronouncement, however, many Mexicans remained convinced the Mourino crash was the work of assassins, possibly drug cartels. The interior minister plays a leading role in planning the federal government’s anti-crime policy.
Blake, a lawyer who was formerly government secretary in the state of Baja California, had frequently served as spokesman for the government’s 5-year-old crackdown on drug gangs.
-- Ken Ellingwood
Photo: Mexican Interior Minister Francisco Blake Mora at a press conference in Mexico City on April 12, 2011. Credit: Mexican Interior Secretaryship / AFP / Getty Images)