MEXICO CITY (AP) _ A helicopter exploded and crashed near a small town in the southern state of Veracruz late Tuesday, minutes after dropping off the Puebla state governor. All three people aboard were killed.

The official Notimex news agency quoted a spokesman for the central state of Puebla as saying the helicopter went down outside the town of Tihuatlan shortly after dropping off Gov. Manuel Bartlett Diaz.

Barlett was in the area on an official tour.

Killed were pilot Jesus Sierra, co-pilot Jose Refugio Alanis Martinez and Jose Antonio Alvarez Ceballos, who was in charge of arranging Barlett's tours.

Authorities said a preliminary investigation indicated the accident was caused by a mechanical failure.

Veracruz is on the Gulf of Mexico.