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Air Show Ends in Tragedy in the Dominican Republic

Categories: Caribbean, Latin America, Dominican Republic, Breaking News, Citizen Media, Politics

During the second and final day of the Caribbean Air Show, just a few minutes after it began, a T-35 Pillán aircraft, registration number FAD 1807, made in Chile and belonging to the Dominican Air Force (FAD), manned by First Lieutenant Pilot Rafael Eduardo Sánchez Astacio, and Second Lieutenant Pilot Carlos Manuel Guerrero Guerrero, experienced problems during an acrobatic stunt and fell to the sea.

The tragic accident took place on Sunday, April 7th, and was seen by thousands of Dominicans who had congregated on Santo Domingo's boardwalk to enjoy the pirouettes and feats of national and foreign pilots, drawing on the skies above the Dominican capital. Less than two hours after the incident, the two lifeless bodies were found and brought to the Dominican Naval Base in Sans Soucí and from there transferred by helicopter to the Doctor Ramón de Lara Military Hospital, FAD.

According to the organizers, the 2013 Caribbean Air Show met all the international standards for shows of this nature established by the International Council of Air Shows, which supported the show.

The President, Danilo Medina, promptly expressed his condolences:

@DaniloMedina: [1] Lamentamos profundamente accidentes como este. Unámonos en oración al dolor de familiares y compañeros de Carlos y Rafael. Paz a sus almas.

@DaniloMedina: [1] We deeply regret accidents like this. Let us join in prayer for the family and friends of Carlos and Rafael. Peace to their souls.

Nevertheless, it did not take long for sectors of civil society to show its discontent. Raúl Raful, son of the representative to PARLACEN (Parlamento Centroamericano-Central American Parliament [2]) [es], Tony Raful, published on his Twitter account:

@RaulRaful: [3] Ese equipo de rescate fue un desastre. ¿Dos buzos sin tanque iban a encontrar esos cuerpos junto con lanchitas de Boca Chica?#ShowAereo [4]

@RaulRaful: [3] That rescue team was a disaster. Two divers without a tank were going to find those bodies along with small boats from Boca Chica?#ShowAereo [4]

With the same tone lawyer Bartolomé Pujals said:

@BartolomePujals: [5] Este dramático suceso dejo claro varias cosas. 1) incompetencia de las autoridades de rescate; 2) la indolencia de los organizadores. #OJO [6]

@BartolomePujals: [5] This dramatic incident made a few things clear. 1) the incompetence of the rescue authorities; 2) the indolence of the organizers. #OJO [6]

Some journalists and social network users affirmed that the plane was not suitable for doing aerial acrobatics, to which communicator and politician José Laluz responded:

@laluzjose: [7] #ShowAereo [4] La letra B en la matricula del Pillan significa 2da generación y la ficha técnica INDICA que son buenos para acrobacia.

@laluzjose: [7] #ShowAereo [4] The letter B on the registration of the Pillan means second generation and the technical data sheet INDICATES that they are good for stunts.

Now, according to declarations made to the Listín Diario [8] [es], General Hugo González Borrel, who was the Commander-in-Chief of the Dominican Air Force when the Pillán planes were acquired by the Dominican Republic, said that it is possible that there was a human error in the aircraft's fall, in which both pilots lost their lives. Accordingly, the Dominican Air Force pointed out that they are carrying out on-site investigations in order to clarify what really happened.

Below are photos of the tragedy, taken with authorization from the news site Diario Libre [9] [es].

Show aéreo termina en tragedia en República Dominicana. [9] Show aéreo termina en tragedia en República Dominicana [9]

Show aéreo termina en tragedia en República Dominicana [9]