Sebastian Piñera: Former Chilean president dies in a helicopter crash

  • Written by Ione Wells in São Paulo and Patrick Jackson in London
  • BBC News

Video explanation,

Watch: President Piñera embraces Florencio Avalos, the first of the trapped Chilean miners to be rescued in 2010

Former Chilean President Sebastian Piñera, who served two terms and was also a billionaire businessman, has died in a helicopter crash at the age of 74.

Three other people on board the plane survived when it crashed into a lake near the southern town of Lago Rancho.

Pinera had flown his own helicopter but there was no official confirmation that he was the pilot during the accident.

National mourning was declared and condolences were offered from across Latin America's political divides.

The conservative politician was credited with rapid economic growth during his first term from 2010 to 2014.

But his second term, from 2018 until last year, was marred by violent social unrest.

In announcing three days of mourning and a state funeral, his leftist successor as president of Chile, Gabriel Porich, expressed his warm appreciation for Piñera.

“We are all Chile and we must dream of it, draw it and build it together,” he said. “Sebastián Piñera said this as he assumed his second presidential term on March 11, 2018. We send a big hug to his family and loved ones in these difficult times.”

Leftist Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said he was “surprised and saddened” by Pinera's death.

He added: “We were in agreement, we worked to strengthen relations between our two countries, and we always had a good dialogue, when we were president, and also when we were not.” Written on X.

Argentina's former conservative president, Mauricio Macri, said Pinera's death was an “irreparable loss” and that he felt “deeply sad,” while Ivan Duque, the former conservative president of Colombia, said he was deeply saddened by the death of his friend.

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At an election campaign event in Santiago in 2006

In 2010, Piñera became Chile's first conservative president since the end of military rule in 1990.

The Harvard-trained economist replaced the country's first female president, Michelle Bachelet, and promised to turn his business acumen to the country's economic growth.

Born in 1949, he became one of the richest men in Chile, amassing much of his fortune in the 1980s when he introduced credit cards to Chile through his company Bankard.

He also invested in Chile's largest major airline, LAN Chile, the country's best football club, Colo-Colo, and a television channel.

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