Five dead after AS350 helicopter crashes into the East river off Manhattan

Five dead after AS350 helicopter crashes into the East river off Manhattan

Pilot rescued but all passengers perish after the Liberty-operated helo came down into New York City waterway

Five people have died after an Airbus Helicopters AS350 B2 helicopter crashed into New York City’s East river on Sunday night and flipped upside down in the water. The aircraft was owned by Liberty Helicopters, a company that offers both private charters and sightseeing tours popular with tourists.

Video taken by a bystander and posted on Twitter shows the red helicopter land and then capsize, its rotors slapping at the water. Two of the five passengers died at the scene and the other three were taken to local hospitals where they later died, a spokesman for the New York City Police spokesman confirmed.

The pilot of the helicopter received minor injuries.

In the video: New York: helicopter comes down in East river

The helicopter (registered N350LH), a private charter hired for a photo shoot, went down near Gracie Mansion, the mayoral residence, just north of Roosevelt Island. One person, the pilot, freed himself and was rescued by a tugboat, officials said.

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.

In 2009, a sightseeing helicopter of the same model and operated by the same company as the one in Sunday’s wreck collided with a small, private plane over the Hudson River, killing nine people, including a group of Italian tourists.