Tourists killed in Grand Canyon helicopter crash

Published: 12 February 2018 Image credit: AP Media

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Three tourists have died and four others have been injured after a helicopter crashed into rocky terrain near the Grand Canyon’s West Rim in Arizona.

Six British passengers and the pilot were on board a sightseeing flight around the Grand Canyon when the chopper crashed due to unknown circumstances.

The four survivors, including the pilot were airlifted to Nevada Hospital at about 2am Sunday, and remain in serious to critical conditions.

A local photographer, Teddy Fujimoto, was filming a nearby wedding, and told reporters he heard the explosion and witnessed the “horrible” aftermath of survivors screaming for help.

Authorities have yet to release the names and age of the victims.

Rough terrain and pitch-black conditions made for a challenging rescue as emergency crews had to be flown in and walk to the wreckage site, using night vision goggles to locate the survivors.

Investigations into the cause of the crash are expected to begin on Sunday afternoon local time, once conditions improve.

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Photo: Rescue mission, AP Media

Papillion Group, the company that organised the flight, released a statement promising full cooperation with crash investigators, and offered condolences to the victims and their families.

“It is with extreme sadness we extend our heartfelt sympathy to the families involved in this accident,” Papillion Chief Executive Brenda Halvorson said.

In August 2001, a helicopter operated by Papillon crashed in Arizona, killing the pilot and five passengers.

The company’s website says it flies more than 600,000 passengers a year around the Grand Canyon and on other tours.

It states that it “abides by flight safety rules and regulations that substantially exceed the regulations required by the Federal Aviation Administration.”