Two Australians, four from UK killed along with pilot in Fox Glacier helicopter crash

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1 NEWS

Six foreign tourists are believed to have been the passengers in today's helicopter crash on Fox Glacier.

Police say two of the victims were Australians and four were from the United Kingdom, although formal identification will take some time.

Police have been liaising with the embassies of the countries concerned to ensure the next of kin are advised.

The pilot, who is believed to have come from the local community, also died when the Squirrel seven-seater helicopter crashed around 760m up the valley.

Downed helicopter on Fox Glacier

Downed helicopter on Fox Glacier

Source: Supplied

An image from the site shows the helicopter deep in a crevasse, and while emergency services have been unable to physically reach the site, they do not expect anyone has survived the impact.

"We have been over the site, there is no sign of life, it appears we have probably lost seven people here today," Inspector John Canning says.

"The weather is not good, it's coming in, we hope to get up there and recover the bodies as soon as we can, that may in fact be tomorrow morning if the weather permits.

"It's the top of the glacier and it's heavily crevassed, very rough country and it's going to take a lot of care to get the people out of there."

A helicopter carrying crew from ONE News heads for the West Coast following this morning's fatal crash.
Source: 1 NEWS

Grey District Mayor Tony Kokshoorn told Associated Press the weather was marginal at the time of the crash, with intermittent rain showers and low cloud.

"It was not ideal for helicopter flying," he said.

"It can be a fine line...operators are doing their best to get people up there, but obviously something went badly wrong."

In 2010 nine people died when a skydiving plane crashed near Fox Glacier airport, and Mr Cannings says the small town was preparing itself for more heartbreak.

Police speak about their efforts to get to the downed helicopter on Fox Glacier.
Source: 1 NEWS

"They will know people, the pilot comes from the local community, it's not a big community so they know people involved."

Mr Canning would not speculate on the cause of the crash, but says a rescue helicopter that went up to the area afterwards had to land due to the conditions.

The recovery and scene examination is expected to take some days, and police are currently trying to locate next of kin.

More than 50 people were involved in the operation, but they are now leaving the Emergency Services Centre in Fox. 

Police said the alarm was raised about 11am and the crash is believed to have taken place about 10am on the upper ice fall area of the glacier.

"Wreckage of the missing helicopter was located on the upper Fox Glacier around 11am," Glacier Country Tourism Group chairman Rob Jewell said.

"It's very sad news. We are comforting family, friends and staff in what is a very difficult time."

Jewell said all other services at Fox Glacier are operating normally and people with bookings can proceed as planned.

The Transport Accident Investigation Commission has opened an investigation.

Six passengers and the pilot were on board the helicopter, which is now wedged deep in a crevasse.
Source: 1 NEWS

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