A helicopter crashed into New York City's East River today and flipped upside down in the water, killing all five passengers aboard, officials said.
A spokesman for the NYPD confirmed the deaths to The Associated Press.
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.
"It's cold water. It was sinking really fast," Mary Lee, 66, told the New York Post. "By the time we got out here, we couldn't see it. It was underwater."
Celia Skyvaril, 23, told the Daily News that she could see a person on what looked like a yellow raft or float screaming and yelling for help.
News footage showed one victim being loaded into an ambulance while emergency workers gave him chest compressions.
A bystander, Susan Larkin, told The Associated Press that she went down to see rescue boats in the river and a police helicopter circling overhead, hovering low over the water. "You could clearly see they were searching," she said.
A Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman said the Eurocopter AS350 went down just after 7 pm (local time).
The aircraft was owned by Liberty Helicopters, a company that offers both private charters and sightseeing tours popular with tourists. A phone message left with the company was not immediately returned.
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.
A volunteer for an Arizona sheriff's office has probably saved the life of a dog that was tied to a semitrailer truck as it pulled out of a parking lot.
The Yavapai County Sheriff's Office says on its Facebook page that a sheriff's office volunteer Patrol-VIP "Volunteer in Protection" was at a gas station in Ash Fork this month when he saw the truck starting to leave with a dog leashed to the trailer bumper.
The dog was trying to keep pace with the truck as it headed toward an interstate highway. The patrol put on his flashers and siren and managed to stop the truck in time.
The close call was caught on the deputy's dashcam video.
The driver says he was distracted and forgot to unleash his dog. Charges aren't being considered. The dog was unharmed.
A volunteer for Arizona police has probably saved the life of a dog that was tied to a semitrailer truck as it pulled out of a petrol station.
Source: Associated Press
A damning inquiry into domestic violence in Samoa has attempted to pull back the "veil of silence" that shrouds the issue.
Source: 1 NEWS
Last week, the Commission of Inquiry released its 300-page report into what it called a crisis in the country.
But the problems identified are well known to many in Samoa.
Now, people are asking, what next?
The inquiry's findings were damning: one in five women will be raped in their lifetime, while nine out of every 10 Samoans will have had some experience with violence in the home.
Listen to more on Dateline PacificSamoa's ombudsman, Maiava Iulai Toma, who also heads the National Human Rights Institute (NHRI), said a national conversation was sorely needed.
Between 2012 and 2015 the number of reported cases more than trebled.
They've continued to worsen said Maiava.
"In spite of all the efforts we are making. We're making a lot of efforts," he said.
"The courts have been very innovative and all sorts of agencies are trying to address the problem of domestic violence, but it just gets worse."
In December 2016 the Inquiry was launched by Prime Minister Tuila'epa Sa'ilele Malielegaoi with Maiava as the chairperson.
Its initial focus was violence against women and girls, said Maiava.
"But in the process we found that violence in the disciplining and upbringing of children is a factor that in a crucial way plays into violence that women and girls face later in life and into violence in general in society."
The Commission spent 2017 listening to the accounts of Samoa's people attempting to understand the problem.
Mostly victims but some perpetrators as well.
Going from village to village throughout the country, they asked people for their stories and what they thought the solutions might be.
Launching the report last week the Prime Minister said the inquiry was, "a Samoan effort to look at the problem in Samoa with a view to formulating Samoan solutions".
Violence in the aiga - the family - violates core principles
Violence in the aiga - the family - violated the core principles of both Fa'asamoa and faith, said Tuila'epa.
"Family Violence in Samoa as the report highlights, sits behind a veil of silence which allows it to continue to menace the lives of our people especially the most vulnerable among us."
But the inquiry didn't hold back in its criticism of the government.
It called it out for tasking the Ministry of Women, Community and Social Development (MWCSD) with addressing domestic violence, but not giving it the power nor the budget to act.
In a submission to the inquiry the MWCSD said domestic violence was a "national crisis", however, "our legal mandate does not provide us with the necessary legal provisions or resources to be able to respond to domestic violence fully".
A lack of government funding for any victim support services has made the situation worse still.
It's crucial, said the inquiry chair Maiava, that the government invest wisely in victim support.
"It's important that the government provides support to NGO's doing work in this space," he said.
"Because government is not and they are reaching out to the community where help is needed."
There are currently no telephone helplines and the only service, Samoa Victim Support Group (SVSG), is run on donations and volunteers' goodwill.
SVSG was set-up in 2005 with a focus on children but its offering grew to meet the needs of the community and today they provide the country's only shelter for family member seeking refuge from violence.
The nature of violence in Samoa is more serious today
The nature of violence in Samoa is more serious today according to SVSG's president, Siliniu Lina Chang.
"Perpetrators are becoming more innovative in the way they carry out violent acts," she said in a submission to the inquiry.
"In the old days it was just a case of scaring their wife but now it is about killing them".
In his address at the report's launch, Tuila'epa said the seeds of the crisis had been sown by many generations, and hinted that - finally - the government might take action.
"We are all complicit. Blame does not fall on the perpetrators alone. We all are party to a degree unknowingly," said the prime minister.
"Now, for the sake of the future, it is up to us and especially those in positions of power to stand up and be counted."
The report outlined 39 key recommendations, the first being the creation of a special agency to deal with domestic violence.
The government must take the lead, said the Inquiry Chair Maiava Iulai Toma, with the support of traditional institutions like the village fono.
"So effort will be concentrated and focused at the governmental level by and through the DVO," he said referring to the proposed new Domestic Violence Office.
"Effort will be concentrated and focused at the village level in the DV committees."
The church was not immune from criticism by the Inquiry and Maiava said it must also work to address the problems.
"I hope this report and its recommendations will lead to a concerted Samoan effort to address this problem."
What is clear to everyone, though, is that the need for action is urgent.
The inquiry is the first of a kind for the Pacific, and in a region where violence in the home is rampant, other countries will be looking to learn from Samoa's example.
- Reporting by Dominic Godfrey, RNZ Pacific Journalist