Presidential candidate films his own helicopter crash in Panama
Panamanian presidential candidate films the terrifying moment his helicopter crashes deep in the jungle and posts a desperate SOS from the wreckage on social media before rescue
- Dimitri Flores was taking a helicopter across Panama last week when it crashed
- He filmed moment it hit a fog bank while passing over mountains and hit trees
- Flores then posted an SOS on social media, telling rescuers location of crash
- Six people, including Flores, were rescued alive but suffering broken bones
This is the terrifying moment a presidential candidate from Panama cheated death when his helicopter crashed into dense jungle.
Dimitri Flores, a lawyer who is running for election in 2024, was taking a flight from Changuinola in the north of the country to the city of David, in the south, on Wednesday last week when the accident happened.
Footage taken from the cockpit of the helicopter shows it flying over mountains in the centre of the country before hitting a thick bank of fog that causes the pilot to lose control and plunge into trees.
Flores then posted an SOS on social media – attracting the attention of rescue teams who trekked three hours into the rainforest and managed to rescue all six of the helicopter passengers alive in the early hours of the following morning.
Dimitri Flores, an independent presidential candidate in Panama, was flying across the country on Wednesday last week when his helicopter crashed into dense jungle
Terrifying footage from the helicopter of the moment it crashed showed the pilot was trying to navigate his way over a mountain in dense fog when he lost control and hit tree-tops
Flores alerted rescuers to his whereabouts with a social media SOS, with a team of medics trekking three hours into the jungle to save them
In the SOS video, uploaded moments after the crash on Wednesday afternoon, Flores can be heard saying: ‘Brother, we just had an accident here a 4,500ft on the mountain range.
‘[We are in] Jaramillo, brother. It crashed. We need someone to rescue us, please. I’m sure we’ve had legs and arms broken.
‘Wow. We are six people. Thank God that we are alive.’
Images posted on social media show Flores and another member of the group sitting on chairs that have been thrown from the helicopter.
Though neither appear badly injured, Flores is shown gripping his left arm and in another photo it sits limp in his lap – suggesting he was hurt.
A third image shows another passenger speaking on the phone with a large black eye and cut to his face, with blood on his shirt.
The lawyer and politician uploaded a video at the crash site, saying he and five others were stranded at 4,500ft suffering broken bones
Several hours later, Flores gave an update as rescue teams arrived. They spent several hours treating the wounded before taking them to safety
The crash happened in western Panama as the helicopter passed over a set of mountains on its way from Changuinola in the north, to the city of David in the south
Flores was forced to spend several hours in the jungle, complaining that several helicopters flew over the crash site but were unable to land there.
Rescuers from the National Aeronaval Service of Panama said they quickly identified the site of the crash, and were then forced to hike three hours to reach it due to the remote location.
They arrived late Wednesday, and spent the evening treating people before finally managing to evacuate everyone alive overnight into Thursday.
Shortly after 11pm local time, the Aeronaval Service tweeted: The extraction of the six injured citizens in the helicopter was achieved in the dark of night.
‘Thanks to the teamwork of the Chiriqui Joint Task Force, residents of the Alto Boquete community and the Boquete Mayor’s Office.
‘They will be transferred to a medical center.’
Flores has since resumed campaigning for the 2024 ballot, where he is seeking election as an independent candidate.
Flores was rescued alive overnight from Wednesday into Thursday, and is now expected to resume campaigning for election in 2024