A security official and an armed assailant were killed in a gunfight during an attempted $32 million heist at Santiago de Chile Airport on Wednesday morning, local media and officials have reported.
A heavily armed group of robbers managed to penetrate the perimeter of Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport but were intercepted by armed guards, resulting in a heavy exchange of gun fire on the airport tarmac close to the terminal building.
The target of the robbers was an aircraft operated by the South American carrier LATAM which had just arrived in Santiago after an overnight flight from Miami, Florida.
Onboard the aircraft was a shipment of around $32 million in cash which was being moved to an armored truck operated by Brinks.
Videos taken by airport workers and shared on social media showed an intense gun battle breaking out between the robbers and security personnel. Local officials have confirmed the death of one security guard.
In a statement, the General Directorate of Civil Aeronautics said it regretted the death of Claudio Villar Rodriguez, an airport security official who was gunned down by the robbers.
“The actions of the officials at our institution managed to prevent this criminal act but unfortunately, with the high cost of the life of one our own,” the statement read.
“The DGAC has reinforced the security mechanisms and had provided our aviation security officials with equipment and training which made it possible to repel this robbery attempt,” the statement continued.
Other videos and photos posted on social media showed what appeared to be damage caused to the Delta Air jet, including what appeared to be at least four bullet holes in the aircraft’s tailfin.
A spokesperson for the Atlanta-based carrier, however, said the aircraft had been extensively examined and no damage was found. As a result, the aircraft will remain in service. There were no reported injuries to Delta workers or customers.
In a statement, the airline said: “Our hearts go out to the loved ones of those impacted by today’s sad events… Delta will work closely with all aviation stakeholders as these events are investigated.”
Along with the death of the security officers, one of the robbers was also reportedly killed in the shootout. The remaining suspects managed to flee the airport and escaped after burning several vehicles on the main airport road.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.