Remains of six recovered from Hawaii helicopter crash, no sign of survivors

(Reuters) – Groups combing the wreckage of a Hawaii sightseeing helicopter that crashed on Kauai island discovered no signal of survivors on Friday and recovered six units of human stays earlier than suspending the search attributable to unhealthy climate, police and hearth officers mentioned.

The grim announcement got here in a information convention nearly 24 hours after the plane, first reported lacking on Thursday night, went down in a distant space of rugged terrain close to the tip of a tour flight over the island’s famed Na Pali Coast.

The crash was no less than the ninth, and by far the deadliest, involving sightseeing helicopters in Hawaii over the previous 5 years, in keeping with Nationwide Transportation Security Board (NTSB) information.

The confirmed manifest of the ill-fated plane, flown by Kauai-based tour operator Safari Helicopters, consisted of six passengers, two of them kids, and one pilot, Kauai County hearth battalion chief Solomon Kanoho informed reporters.

The identities of the useless have been being saved confidential till subsequent of kin could possibly be notified, authorities mentioned.

“We’re heartbroken by this tragedy and we proceed to ask the general public to contemplate the delicate nature of this devastating state of affairs,” Mayor Derek Kawakami mentioned in a press release. “Our ideas and prayers are with the households and family members of all victims throughout this extraordinarily tough time.”

The Kauai hearth division referred to as off its search-and-recovery efforts late Friday afternoon attributable to fog and poor visibility however deliberate to renew the operation at dawn on Saturday, Kanoho mentioned.

Though the stays of simply six of the seven individuals who have been aboard the ill-fated plane have been recovered, Kanoho added: “There aren’t any indications of survivors.”

TOURISTS FROM TWO FAMILIES

Kanoho beforehand mentioned the passengers on board the helicopter had been in two teams – a celebration of two from one household and a celebration of 4 from one other.

Kanoho declined to explain particulars of the wreckage out of respect for the victims’ family members.

Whereas the reason for the crash has but to be decided, Kanoho mentioned the world the place the helicopter went down had skilled “some very unhealthy climate” beforehand, including that the chopper had crashed inside its prescribed flight route.

The NTSB, which mentioned it was sending a three-member group to research the crash, reported in Might that there had been eight accidents involving Hawaii tour helicopters over the previous 5 years, with 4 deaths and 18 accidents.

The company made that report after a tour helicopter went down in a residential neighborhood on the island of Oahu in April, killing three individuals.

The most recent crash was in Koke’e State Park in an space referred to as Nu’alolo, a steep-sided valley north of Waimea Canyon State Park, in keeping with a press release posted by the Kauai police division on Fb.

Waimea Canyon is a vacationer vacation spot referred to as the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific,” and police mentioned the helicopter was final heard from at about 4:40 p.m. on Thursday, when the pilot radioed that the plane was simply departing that space.

A search was launched a short while later, after Safari alerted authorities that the helicopter was 30 minutes overdue on its flight again to the airfield in Lihue on the island’s southeast finish, officers mentioned.

A U.S. Coast Guard cutter vessel and helicopter search crew have been instantly dispatched. The search was expanded at dawn on Friday to incorporate air, sea and floor groups from the Coast Guard, U.S. Navy, police, hearth division and different companies.

The lacking plane was geared up with an digital locator beacon, however no alerts have been acquired after it disappeared, the Coast Guard mentioned.

In accordance with its web site, Safari provides aerial sightseeing excursions to Kauai’s main points of interest over the Na Pali Coast and Waimea Canyon. The Na Pali Coast, recognized for jagged inexperienced cliffs laced with towering waterfalls, is without doubt one of the most visited points of interest on Kauai, the fourth-largest island within the Hawaiian chain.

Reporting by Maria Caspani and Peter Szekely in New York and Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Enhancing by Daniel Wallis and Leslie Adler

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