Air force chief of staff Col. Manuel Lopez and nine other military personnel died in the crash of a military helicopter, the Nicaraguan armed forces said.

The Russian-made MI-17 was carrying "a commission of the air force general staff" when it went down Thursday, the armed forces said in a statement.

Lopez was traveling with Col. Mario Jiron, chief of the aircraft repair base, and Col. Eugenio Alfaro, head of air force operations and planning who was piloting the chopper.

Lt. Col. Aldo Herrera, general staff director of operations and planning; Lt. Col. Chester Vargas, head of air force intelligence and counterintelligence; Lt. Col. Ildefonso Hernandez, chief aircraft inspector and copilot of the helicopter; and Lt. Col. Francisco Cruz, chief of air force personnel, were also aboard the helicopter.

The other victims were Maj. Oscar Silva, aviation technician; airman Osmar Acosta, operator of the air force anti-aircraft artillery group; and Cristhian Lopez, an accountant of that institution, officials said.

The aircraft crashed in Cuatro Palos, a community located outside the city of La Paz Centro in Leon province, 57 kilometers (35 miles) northwest of Managua. EFE