February 07, (THEWILL) – A former President of Chile, Sebastian Pinera, has died in a helicopter crash.
The helicopter carrying Pinera, 74 and three others, plunged into a lake in southern Chile on Tuesday.
Pinera was pronounced dead shortly after rescue personnel arrived at the scene. The other three passengers survived.
Meanwhile, President Gabriel Boric has declared three days of national mourning, while preparations have begun for a state funeral on Friday, for the former leader, who served two non-consecutive terms between 2010 and 2022.
Pinera was perhaps best known abroad for his role overseeing the spectacular rescue in 2010 of 33 miners, who were trapped underneath the Atacama desert. The event became a global media sensation and was the subject of a 2014 movie, “The 33.”
In Chile, he was known as a successful businessman, whose first term was boosted by rapid economic growth, but who was often seen as out-of-touch with the country’s fast-changing society.
Former Argentine President, Mauricio Macri, expressed his sadness at the news of Pinera’s death.
“He was a good person, committed like no one else to Chile and the values of freedom and democracy in Latin America”, he said.
The son of a prominent centrist politician, Pinera was a Harvard-trained economist, who made his fortune introducing credit cards to Chile in the 1980s.
He was also a major shareholder in the flagship airline formerly known as LAN, the local soccer team, Colo-Colo, and a television station, although he sold most of those holdings when he took over the presidency in March 2010. As of 2024, he was ranked 1,176 on Forbes’ global rich list, with a net worth of $2.7 billion