All seven people on board a helicopter including the pilot have died after crashing into Fox Glacier, a popular tourism spot on the west coast of New Zealand’s South Island, New Zealand police have confirmed.
The names of the victims have been recently released: Mitchell Paul Gameren of Queenstown (who was the pilot), 28, Andrew Virco of Cambridge in England, 50, Katharine Walker of Cambridge in England, 51, Nigel Edwin Charlton of Hampshire, 66, Cynthia Charlton of Hampshire, 70, Leang Sovannmony of South Australia, 27, and Josephine GIbson of South Australia, 29.
The helicopter was being operated by Alpine Adventure which provides scenic helicopter flights in the South Island including Southern Alps, Franz Josef Glacier and Fox Glacier.
The incident was reported to have taken place at around 11 am on Saturday morning. The wreck of the Squirrel helicopter was discovered in a crevasse 762 metres up the valley in the 13km-long Fox Glacier after four helicopters were sent there by the New Zealand Rescue Coordination Centre.
While the Transport Accident Investigation Commission has launched an investigation, police have yet to examine the crash site and recover the bodies citing “terrible” weather conditions and treacherous terrain that would delay access to the crash site by a few days. Poor weather has continued to hamper the efforts of recovery teams who were looking to retrieve the bodies and wreckage this morning.
It follows another incident in 2010 where a plane heading towards Fox Glacier killed nine people after it crashed near its take-off site.
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