5 Killed in Helicopter Crash in New York River

5 Killed in Helicopter Crash in New York River

Monday, 12 March, 2018 - 08:00
Emergency responders work at the scene of a helicopter crash in the East River March 11, 2018 in New York City.. Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images/AFP
Asharq Al-Awsat
All five passengers aboard a helicopter that crashed into Manhattan's East River were confirmed dead early Monday morning by a New York Police Department spokesman.

The pilot was able to escape the Sunday night crash after the aircraft flipped upside down in the water, officials said. He was rescued by a tugboat.

The helicopter, a private charter owned by tourism group Liberty and hired for a photo shoot, went down near Gracie Mansion, the mayoral residence.

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 divers 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.

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.

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