Photo: AP/Arnulfo Franco
A helicopter crashed into the Banana Price department store (across the street from the Machitazo, John) in the Calidonia neighborhood of Panama City at 2:13 this afternoon. It exploded on impact. Calidonia is a very busy area with many shops and hotels.
General José Alejandro Bernales, director general de Carabineros de Chile (Director of Police in Chile) and his wife; Commander Oscar Tapia and his wife; Commander Ricardo Orozco Ugalde; Captain Mauricio Fuenzlida; and four other persons. The Chileans were in town for an anti-terrorism conference. Chilean President Michelle Bachelet declared three days of morning in Chile.
The pilot is presently in intensive care at hospital Santo Tomás, along with four other people from the accident scene. We don't know how many people in the department store were injured.
President Torrijos has canceled his scheduled trip to El Salvador.
Residents of the area are being evacuated while firemen fight the fire. I've been watching the coverage on television and it looks like a war zone, in fact, it reminds me of the photos of the invasion in 1989.
There is no information on what caused the crash, but I understand that the helicopter was an old model from the 1960's and had been used by General Omar Torrijos back in the day.
Pray for the people in Calidonia and the families of the people from Chile who have died.