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At least four people were killed when two helicopters collided in mid-air near Sea World theme park on Australia’s east Gold Coast on Monday, Queensland Police said. Eight others were injured, three critically.
The collision happened as one helicopter landed and another took off, police said. The crash happened around 2 p.m. across from Seaworld Drive, the main access point to Sea World Resort, in Main Beach, police said, citing preliminary information. The area is popular with tourists and families and would likely have been packed as Monday is a bank holiday and schools are closed for the Australian summer.
On One of the helicopters crashed and four passengers on board were pronounced dead at the scene, while three others were seriously injured and taken to a hospital, police said.
The other helicopter, carrying six passengers, landed on a sandbar, according to police. Five of the passengers were taken to a hospital for treatment of minor injuries, one person was not physically injured, they said.
The Queensland Ambulance Service said eight people were taken to Gold Coast University Hospital and one person to Queensland Children’s Hospital. Police told journalists at the scene that it was initially difficult for emergency services to access the sandbar and those injured or killed in the crash.
Authorities did not name or age the victims.
— Queensland Ambulance (@QldAmbulance) January 2, 2023
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation quoted an unnamed spokesman for Sea World Helicopters as confirming that both helicopters involved in the crash belonged to it.
“We and the entire aviation community are devastated by what has happened and our sincere condolences go out to everyone involved and especially the loved ones and family of the deceased,” the spokesman said, adding that Sea World Helicopters is working with law enforcement in your country cooperation investigation. The company did not respond Monday night Washington Post comment request.
Village Roadshow Theme Parks, which operates Sea World, said Sea World Helicopters is an independent operator but is working with authorities and “supporting team members who are emotionally affected by the tragedy.”
Queensland Prime Minister Annastacia Palaszczuk called it an “unimaginable tragedy”.
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese told the nation “is shocked by the news of the terrible and tragic helicopter incident in the Gold Coast today.”
“My thoughts are with all those affected, including first responders, and my deepest sympathy goes out to those who mourn,” he added.
He paddled across the water. Then a shark tore a hole in his boat.
The Queensland Police Forensic Crash Unit and the Australian Transport Safety Bureau are investigating the incident.
Chief Commissioner Angus Mitchell said in a statement that the ATSB would release a preliminary report on its findings in about six to eight weeks and a final report would come later.
“However, should critical safety issues be identified at any time during the course of the investigation, the ATSB will promptly notify the relevant parties so that appropriate safety actions can be taken,” Mitchell said.