Pilot killed when emergency light aircraft crashes while extinguishing fires in Portugal

A pilot of a firefighting light aircraft died Friday when the aircraft he was flying crashed in the municipality of Castelo Melhor, in Vila Nova de Foz Coa, northeastern Portugal.

“The man’s death has been decreed on the spot by the medical team of the helicopter of the National Institute of Medical Emergencies (INEM),” said João Paulo Sousa, mayor of Vila Nova de Foz Coa, in statements reported by the Lusa agency.

“The pilot’s body has been burned and the amphibious plane completely destroyed, and the model cannot be identified, but everything indicates that he is a fire chief,” the mayor said.

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Subsequently, the President of the Republic, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, has confirmed the identity of the victim, also conveying condolences to the pilot’s family through a press release from the Presidency.

“Commander André Serra will be remembered for his courage, bravery and vocation of service. To the grieving family, friends and comrades of the Portuguese Air Force — branch of the Portuguese Armed Forces where he served — the President of the Republic offers his heartfelt condolences, in this equally difficult moment for all operators of the Special Rural Fire Fighting Device,” he said.

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Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa mourned the pilot’s death in a message posted on the social network Twitter.

“It was with great dismay that I learned of the death of the pilot who was flying an aircraft that crashed this afternoon while fighting a fire in Torre de Moncorvo. I send my deepest condolences to family and friends,” Costa tweeted.

Likewise, the president of the Assembly of the Republic, Augusto Santos Silva, has considered the death as “a huge loss” also through his personal Twitter account.

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