NEW YORK: A helicopter crashed into New York City’s East River Sunday night and flipped upside down in the water, killing two of the six people aboard and leaving three others in critical condition, officials said.
Video taken by a bystander and posted on Twitter shows the red helicopter land hard in the water and then capsize, its rotors slapping at the water.
The helicopter, a private charter hired for a photo shoot, went down near Gracie Mansion , the mayoral residence. One person, the pilot, freed himself and was rescued by a tugboat, officials said.
The passengers were recovered by police and fire department divers, who had to remove them from tight harnesses while they were upside down, Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said.
“It took awhile for the drivers to get these people out. They worked very quickly as fast as they could,” Nigro said. “It was a great tragedy that we had here.”
Witnesses on a waterfront esplanade near where the aircraft went down said the helicopter was flying noisily, then suddenly dropped into the water and quickly submerged. But the pilot appeared on the surface, holding onto a flotation device as a tugboat and then police boats approached.
The cause of the crash is unknown. The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating.
Officials did not immediately release the names of the pilot or passengers or say how the two passengers died.
The helicopter was recovered in the rescue operation and towed to a pier. APP/AFP