sebastian pinera former president of chile dies in helicopter crash

Mr. Piñera was a billionaire businessman who served two terms, leaving office in 2022.

Sebastián Piñera, a former president of Chile who helped strengthen the nation’s young democracy after becoming its first conservative leader since a military dictatorship, died in a helicopter crash in Chile on Tuesday, the government said. He was 74.

The helicopter, carrying four people, crashed into Lake Ranco in the Los Ríos region in southern Chile about 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, shortly after taking off, the government said. Three people survived and swam to shore, and the Chilean Navy recovered Mr. Piñera’s body. It is unclear who was piloting the aircraft, but Mr. Piñera was known to fly his own helicopter.

Mr. Piñera was a billionaire businessman and investor who served two terms as Chile’s president, from 2010 to 2014 and from 2018 to 2022.

A conservative, Mr. Piñera ushered in pro-business policies that helped boost growth and make the nation of 19 million, in his words, “a true oasis” in Latin America.

But he also faced enormous protests from residents who said his government disregarded the poor — Chile is one of the world’s most economically unequal nations — and he left office both times with low approval ratings.

“President Piñera contributed, from his perspective, to build broad agreements for the good of the nation,” President Gabriel Boric of Chile said in a televised address on Tuesday. “He was a democrat from the very beginning and genuinely sought what he believed was best for the country.” Mr. Boric announced three days of national mourning.

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