Wellington: Six tourists and their pilot were killed when their helicopter crashed into a heavily crevassed glacier in New Zealand during bad weather on Saturday, police said.
The sightseeing helicopter plunged into the Fox Glacier, a popular tourist site on the West Coast of the south Island, with weather conditions reported to be heavily overcast and raining at the time. A paramedic and an alpine rescue team who were winched down to the crash site confirmed there were no survivors, a police spokesman said.
Efforts were under way to recover the bodies but police said this could take time because of the atrocious weather. “I’m not going to risk any more lives, we’ve lost seven,” inspector John Canning told reporters.
The names and nationalities of the pilot and six passengers were not immediately available. The downed helicopter was reported to belong to Alpine Adventures, a company that advertises itself as an “experienced helicopter flight-seeing company providing visitors with a diverse range of South Island scenic helicopter flights and private charters in some of most spectacular alpine and coastal regions of New Zealand”.
Five years ago, nine people including four tourists were killed when a plane carrying a party of skydivers crashed on takeoff at Fox Glacier airport. Fox Glacier is 13 kilometres (eight miles) long and is listed as one of the most accessible glaciers in the world, attracting thousands of tourists each year.