Guadalupe Larriva, the Ecuadorean defence minister, has been killed in a helicopter collision in the Pacific port city of Manta.
Monica Chuji, a government spokeswoman, said: "We can confirm the death of the minister, of one of her children and two pilots in the crash of two helicopters."
According to local media reports, the two Ecuadorean military helicopters crashed in mid-air at about 9pm on Wednesday (02:00GMT Thursday). Rafael Correa, the president, was flying from the southern port city of Guayaquil to the scene of the crash.
Larriva took office on January 15 after being named Ecuador's first woman defence minister by Correa, the newly inaugurated president.
Correa appointed seven women to his cabinet, saying he wanted to promote gender equality in his country. Larriva was a university professor and leader of the country's small Socialist party.
She had promised to strengthen presidential control of military ranks, improve salaries for the armed forces and make the promotions system more transparent in a country where the military has helped to remove three presidents in 10 years.
Correa asked the country to "pray for the soul of Guadalupe, her daughter, her family and the government of Ecuador".
Source: Al Jazeera English Edition
I can't believe this. I will wait until the independent investigations from Chile and France reach their conclusions, but it all seems too much. There was a lot of anger when she was chosen as Defense minister: she was the first civilian ever to occupy that position, and a woman to boot. This is really bad.