Authorities to probe VIP helicopter landing on Scorpion Reef
The landing of a private helicopter over the weekend at Arrecife Alacranes (Scorpion Reef) off the coast near Progreso has prompted the Federal Attorney for Environmental Protection (Profepa) to investigate for possible damage to the Natural Protected Area (NPA). This probe comes as a result of a citizen complaint about the helicopter landing in the NPA.
Passengers aboard the helicopter that landed in Scorpion Reef were Gerardo Ruiz Esparza, Mexico’s Secretary of Communications and Transport, and Guillermo Ruiz de Teresa, Undersecretary of Ports, who accompanied Senator Emilio Gamboa Patron and Yucatecan businessman Emilio Diaz Castellanos. The helicopter landed on Scorpion Reef to ferry the passengers to a yacht belonging to the Diaz Castellanos family.
The helicopter landed in the protected area, affecting fauna and flora, possibly including turtles and migratory birds. In addition the helicopter had permission only to reach Perez Island.
The descent of the aircraft was made in a restricted area and affected habitat for seabirds and other species that nest in the sandy islands.
The landing also led to the overturning of a “dinghy”, a small boat used to go down to the beach. The turbulence caused by the helicopter caused the dinghy to overturn and the engine went to sea with consequent damage.
According to initial investigations, the helicopter was rented in Ciudad del Carmen, from which it flew to Merida. The aircraft flew to the Country Club and from there to Scorpion Reef, but the pilot landed on the beach and not at the heliport located in Perez Island.
Scorpion Reef boasts the Gulf of Mexico’s largest coral structure, so any damage that may have occurred will be determined as the case is investigated. Penalties could be levied under the the General Law of Wildlife.