At least 4 dead after helicopter crash over Australian beach
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Two helicopters collided at an Australian tourist hotspot on Monday afternoon, killing four passengers and seriously injuring three others in a crash that drew emergency help from sunbathers enjoying the water during the austral summer.
One helicopter appeared to have taken off and the other had landed when they collided near the Sea World theme park at Main Beach, a beach in the northern Gold Coast, said Gary Worrell, acting inspector for the police. State of Queensland at a press conference.
One helicopter landed safely on a sandbar, but debris from the other spilled into an area described by police as difficult to access.
The dead and the three most seriously injured were all passengers in the helicopter that crashed.
“Members of the public and police tried to move people away and they started first aid and tried to get these people to safety from an upside down cell,” Worrell said.
“(People on) jet skis, family boaters, ordinary members of the public rushed to help these people.”
The passengers of the other helicopter, which lost its windshield in the accident, are also receiving medical assistance.
Footage of the crash showed a helicopter shortly after takeoff cut off by another helicopter flying over water.
Sea World Helicopters, a separate company from the theme park, expressed condolences and said it was cooperating with authorities investigating the accident.
“We and the entire aviation community are devastated by what happened and our heartfelt condolences go out to everyone involved and in particular to the loved ones and family of the deceased,” the statement read.
The company did not confirm whether it operated one or both helicopters involved in the crash, saying in the statement it would not comment further due to the investigation.
A witness named John told Melbourne radio station 3AW that Sea World customers heard of the crash.
He said theme park staff acted quickly to close off areas closest to the crash.
“There was a huge, huge bang,” he said. “It was just huge. I don’t know if it was the propellers or anything that was hitting. But there was this poor lady and her son near the helipad in tears.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the crash was an “unthinkable tragedy”.
“My deepest condolences go out to each of the families and everyone affected by this terrible accident,” she said.
Australian Transport Safety Board chief commissioner Angus Mitchell said an investigation into the cause of the crash was underway.
The Queensland Ambulance Service said earlier that 13 people were being assessed for injuries.
The Gold Coast region is busiest in January, the peak time for summer holidays in Australia.
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