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Chile ex-president Sebastian Pinera dies in helicopter crash

Chile's former president Sebastian Piñera, seen here on December 9, 2021, has died in a helicopter crash at age 74 (MARTIN BERNETTI)
Chile's former president Sebastian Piñera, seen here on December 9, 2021, has died in a helicopter crash at age 74 (MARTIN BERNETTI)

Chile's former president Sebastian Pinera, a billionaire tycoon who twice held the South American nation's top job, died Tuesday in a helicopter crash, his office said in a statement.

"It is with deep regret that we announce the death of the former president of the Republic of Chile," said the statement, adding the 74-year-old Pinera had died in Lago Ranco, a popular vacation spot some 920 kilometers (570 miles) south of Santiago.

Three other people who had been in the helicopter survived the crash.

Pinera served two non-consecutive terms in office, between 2010 and 2014 and again from 2018 to 2022.

He was the first right-wing leader to be elected after the 1973-1990 dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet.

"He will have all the honors and recognition that he deserves," said Interior Minister Carolina Toha, of the leftist government of President Gabriel Boric, after learning of Pinera's death.

Pinera often flew himself around in his own helicopter, and was a former shareholder in the country's national airline, with stakes in a television network and other businesses.

Forbes magazine estimated his net worth at $2.4 billion.

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