The country's top Cabinet secretary, Francisco Blake Mora, a key figure in Mexico's battle with drug cartels, died today in a helicopter crash that President Felipe Calderon said was probably an accident. Calderon said the helicopter was flying in fog when it went down in a remote area southeast of Mexico City, but that all possible causes were under investigation. "Mexico has lost a great patriot ... and I lost a dear friend," said Calderon, visibly struggling to maintain composure during address to the country.
Authorities said the undersecretary for human rights, Felipe Zamora, was among the seven others also killed, including the pilot. Blake Mora was traveling to a prosecutors' meeting in the neighboring state of Morelos when the helicopter went down in a mountainous area of Mexico State. Suspicions commonly swirl around the deaths of prominent people in Mexico, and Calderon appeared to try to quell any suggestions of sabotage, saying Blake Mora's helicopter "was always under guard." (Read more Mexico stories.)