Page last updated at 02:59 GMT, Saturday, 28 June 2008 03:59 UK

Guatemala minister dies in crash

Vinicio Gomez - photo 10 January
Mr Gomez was on his way to a regional security meeting

Guatemalan Interior Minister Vinicio Gomez has been killed in a helicopter crash north of the country's capital, government officials have said.

Deputy minister Edgar Hernandez, the pilot and one other person also died.

The authorities lost radio contact with the aircraft at 1308 local time (1908 GMT) on Friday.

It disappeared over the Alta Verapaz department en route to Peten in the north. It is thought that the crash was caused by bad weather.

Guatemala map
The two officials were on their way to a regional security meeting.

Fernando Barrillas, spokesman for the country's President, Alvaro Colom, told AFP news agency he had cut short a trip to Mexico for a Central American summit due to take place on Saturday.

"The government is distraught and regrets the death of a key minister, who had done good work in a few months in office," said another spokesman, Ronaldo Robles.

Mr Gomez was appointed five months ago when Mr Colom took office. He was a deputy minister in the previous government.

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