Zimbabwe opposition leader dies in helicopter crash in New Mexico

Zimbabwe opposition leader dies in helicopter crash in New Mexico

A fiery helicopter crash killed key Zimbabwean opposition leader Roy Bennett while on holiday in a remote part of the USA state of New Mexico and four others aboard, friends and authorities said.

Bennett, 60, was listed as a resident of Colorado and South Africa.

Authorities in the US state of New Mexico say a victim injured in a helicopter crash that killed five others, including a Zimbabwe opposition leader, called for help.

A helicopter (not pictured) crashed in New Mexico mountains Wednesday evening.

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The crash's only survivor was Andra Cobb, 39, who said she was able to escape before the helicopter burst into flames, according to her mother.

They were visiting friend Charles Burnett III, a wealthy Houston-based businessman who also was killed in Wednesday's crash in a remote area near the Colorado state line. After a frantic search the crash was found ablaze at a ranch about 10 miles east of the town of Raton.

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Fire department and law enforcement vehicles responded to the area, but response was slow due to the area being extremely remote with rugged terrain and limited road access. "Wreckage was spotted in a rancher's property east of Raton". David Coltart, an opposition figure, said the couple were "two of Zimbabwe's greatest patriots".

Cobb and his wife, Martha, met Zimbabwe political leader Roy Bennett and his wife on various cruises, according to reports from the Associated Press.

Former Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) treasurer Roy Bennett has died. Heather stood by Roy through thick and thin and she will also be sadly missed. "My condolences are extended to their family & friends". He was fluent in Zimbabwe's Shona language, it said, and had helped hundreds of impoverished villagers pay school fees for their children.

His death comes as Zimbabwe's new President Emmerson Mnangagwa is promising a break with the past. This monumental tragedy is a deep wound that will never heal.

The National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the crash, and agency spokesman Eric Weiss an NTSB investigator was expected to arrive at the crash site late Thursday.

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