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Mexico mourns death of tycoon Moises Saba Masri in helicopter crash

January 11, 2010 |  2:41 pm

Moises Saba Masri, one of Mexico's leading entrepreneurs, and part of his family were killed in a helicopter crash that authorities are blaming preliminarily on bad weather.

The charred bodies of Saba, his wife Adela Tuachi, their son Alberto and his wife Judith were recovered early today in a wooded residential neighborhood near the Toluca International Airport, 35 miles west of Mexico City, where the helicopter went down. The pilot, Armando Fernandez, also died.

Saba, 46, a member of one of Mexico's wealthiest families, directed numerous businesses, with most of his fortune in real estate and telecommunications. He was also a principal shareholder of TV Azteca.

The Sabas had returned Sunday night from a vacation in New York, arriving at the Toluca airport, which is often used to avoid the hectic Mexico City airport. Their private helicopter, the transportation mode favored by Mexico's elite, was to take them to their homes in the capital.

But the hills between Toluca and Mexico City were shrouded in fog Sunday night. Witnesses reported seeing the chopper flying unusually low, then clipping a three-story house before plunging into a ravine and exploding.

"This is a terrible loss for the city and the nation," said Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard, who went to the scene. President Felipe Calderon also expressed condolences to the family and Mexico City's Jewish community, of which Saba was an active member. 

A longer obituary, in Spanish, can be read here.

-- Tracy Wilkinson in Mexico City