Zimbabwean opposition politician among five people killed in US helicopter crash

A British-born land speed record holder was also among the victims of the New Mexico crash

Zimbabwean opposition politician among five people killed in US helicopter crash

Senior Zimbabwean MDC opposition official Roy Bennett, left, and his wife Heather. Picture by: TSVANGIRAYI MUKWAZHI/AP/Press Association Images

An exiled Zimbabwean opposition politician and a British-born land speed record holder are among five people who died in a helicopter crash in New Mexico.

Politician Roy Bennett, his wife Heather, record-breaker Charles Burnett III and pilots Jamie Colman Dodd and Paul Cobb all perished.

The alarm was raised by the only survivor, Andrea Cobb, who was in a relationship with Mr Burnett and was Paul Cobb's daughter.

The group had been travelling to a ranch when the helicopter came down in a remote area of the state and burst into flames.

New Mexico State Police said: "Raton, New Mexico Police Department received a 911 call from a victim in the crash who reported the incident.

"The victim informed dispatch there were six people aboard the helicopter when it crashed."

Officials said Ms Cobb had serious injuries but was expected to live.

Mr Bennett (60) was known as one of the most prominent opponents of the former Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe.

He was a key figure in the opposition MDC party, and served time in prison under Mugabe.

In a statement quoted by Reuters, MDC said: “Roy was a resolute and committed fighter for democratic change in Zimbabwe."

Former Zimbabwean minister David Coltart was among those who paid tribute to the Bennetts: 

Mr Burnett (61), meanwhile, set a world record for a steam-powered car in 2009.

Nicknamed the "fastest kettle in the world" the British-built steam supercar reached an average speed of 139.8m/h (225km/h) on two runs over a measured mile at the Edwards Air Force Base in California, beating a record that had stood for more than 100 years.