Four people died after two helicopters collided near Sea World on the Gold Coast | Air Transport

Four people have died and three are in critical condition after two helicopters collided near Sea World on the Gold Coast.

More than a dozen people were seen by the Queensland Ambulance Service after the helicopters made contact on Monday afternoon. Police confirmed at a press conference that four people had been killed and three seriously injured.

A helicopter managed to land near the Sea World theme park after the collision which happened around 2:00 p.m. local time (3:00 p.m. AEDT).

Acting Inspector Gary Worrell said it was a “difficult scene”. “Four people lost their lives today and we have three more in critical condition in hospital,” he told reporters.

There were “lots of moving parts” and it was initially difficult to access the crash site on a sandbar, he said.

“[From] our initial investigations, it would appear that one took off and the other landed,” Worrell said.

“[One] cell has the windshield removed and he landed safely on the island. The other cell crashed and it was upside down. Members of the public and the police tried to move people away and started first aid and tried to get people to safety.

Police and rescue personnel inspect one of the helicopters at the crash site. Photography: Dave Hunt/AAP

Witness Va Tuala, who was from Ipswich, said he heard a “sudden, loud bang”.

“It almost felt like a big thunderstorm. As we turned towards the noise, we just saw the two helicopters in the air and one had been hit by the other,” she told Guardian Australia.

“It just got out of control and we saw it go down, and we saw the wreckage of the crash. The other helicopter made it to a safe landing and everyone pretty much came to a stop…we were all watching what had happened.

“It looked like something out of a movie. When the other helicopter landed we saw passengers or maybe the pilot running towards the crashed helicopter and a whole bunch of people running towards it.

People in jet skis and boats rushed to help victims on the small sandy island off the theme park before paramedics and police arrived on the scene.

Helicopters on the sandbar.
Helicopters on the sandbar. Photography: Nine News

Police urged motorists and pedestrians to avoid Seaworld Drive in Main Beach.

The Australian Transport Safety Board has opened an investigation. Chief Commissioner Angus Mitchell said the ATSB would issue a preliminary report within six to eight weeks.

“Transport safety investigators experienced in helicopter operations, maintenance and survivability engineering are being deployed from ATSB offices in Brisbane and Canberra and are expected to begin arriving at the site of the accident from Monday afternoon,” he said.

“During the evidence-gathering phase of the investigation, ATSB investigators will examine the wreckage and map the crash site.”

Anyone who saw the collision, witnessed the helicopters at any phase of their flights, or has footage of any kind should contact the ATSB, the office said.

GOLD COAST: Seaworld Drive in Main Beach has been closed due to a helicopter crash. Motorists and pedestrians are asked to avoid the area.

— Queensland Police (@QldPolice) January 2, 2023

Photographs showed a Sea World logo on one of the helicopters. A witness said one of the helicopters made joy flights from Sea World in the hours before the collision. Guardian Australia contacted Sea World.

The Queensland Ambulance Service said “several QAS resources and other emergency services” were at the scene.

#MainBeach – Several QAS resources and other emergency services are on the scene of a major incident involving two helicopters at 1:59 p.m. No further details at this time.

— Queensland Ambulance (@QldAmbulance) January 2, 2023

Witness Jonathon James Spagnol said the crash happened after the helicopters got too close, with the tail rotor of one sawing off that of the other.

“Yes, 2 helicopters crashed into each other. Looks like one went up and the other was coming back. Cutting the back of the other one landed on the sandbar. Was right behind us,” he wrote on Facebook.

Carmen Renèe Mallia wrote: “I saw it too. I was absolutely shocked. Shook me to the core. I hope everyone was doing well.”

“I saw he hit something from the car and he went straight down. Hope everyone is okay,” Billie Tunks posted on Facebook..

– Additional Australian Associated Press reporting

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