N Zealand copter crash kills 2 Aus­tralians, 4 Britons


WELLING­TON: Two Aus­tralian and four Bri­tish tourists, along with their pi­lot, were killed when their he­li­copter crashed into a heav­ily crevassed glacier in New Zealand dur­ing bad weather yes­ter­day, 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 alpine res­cue team who looked over the crash site con­firmed there were no sur­vivors.

“A he­li­copter car­ry­ing seven peo­ple in­clud­ing the pi­lot has crashed at the top of the Fox Glacier,” in­spec­tor John Can­ning said. “We have been to the site and there is no sign of life and tomorrow we hope to re­cover the bod­ies of those in­volved.”

Can­ning said the re­cov­ery ef­fort could take time be­cause of the atro­cious weather.

“I’m not go­ing to risk any more lives, we’ve lost seven,” he said. “The ter­rain at the top of the glacier is very rough, as you can imag­ine it’s icy and there are crevasses-it’s quite dan­ger­ous.”

Grey Dis­trict Mayor Tony Kok­shoorn de­scribed weather con­di­tions around the glacier at the time of the accident as “ter­ri­ble” with heavy rain and poor vis­i­bil­ity.

“It wouldn’t be a good day to be fly­ing he­li­copters,” he said. A state­ment later posted to the po­lice web­site said two Aus­tralians and four Britons were killed, while Can­ning con­firmed the pi­lot was a lo­cal man. Their names have yet to be re­leased.

“Po­lice have been li­ais­ing with the em­bassies of the coun­tries con­cerned to en­sure the next of kin are ad­vised of the sit­u­a­tion,” the state­ment said. De­bris from the wrecked he­li­copter was spread over sev­eral hun­dred me­tres with the main part of the air­craft wedged be­tween hous­e­sized blocks of ice.

The alarm was raised late yes­ter­day morn­ing when an emer­gency lo­ca­tor bea­con was ac­ti­vated.

The New Zealand Res­cue Co-Or­di­na­tion Cen­tre sent four he­li­copters to the glacier where they found a deep scorch mark lead­ing to the he­li­copter about 2,500 feet (762-me­tres) up the glacier. A spokesman for Alpine Ad­ven­tures, which op­er­ated the sin­gle-en­gine Squir­rel he­li­copter, con­firmed it was on a scenic flight with six pas­sen­gers.

New Zealand’s Trans­port Accident In­ves­ti­ga­tion Com­mis­sion said it would in­ves­ti­gate the cause of the crash and had sent four in­ves­ti­ga­tors to Fox Glacier. Alpine Ad­ven­tures 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 (the) 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. — AFP KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian Prime Min­is­ter Na­jib Razak (cen­tre) and US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama (sec­ond left) walk to at­tend a din­ner for East Asia Sum­mit Lead­ers at the Kuala Lumpur Con­ven­tion Cen­tre in Kuala Lumpur yes­ter­day on the side­lines of his par­tic­i­pa­tion in the As­so­ci­a­tion of South­east Asian Na­tions (ASEAN) Sum­mit. — AFP

Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping con­demned yes­ter­day the “cruel and sav­age” at­tack by Is­lamist mil­i­tants on a ho­tel in Mali’s cap­i­tal that killed 19 peo­ple in­clud­ing three ex­ec­u­tives from a Chi­nese rail­way com­pany.

Gun­men shout­ing Is­lamic slogans at­tacked the Radis­son Blu ho­tel in Bamako on Fri­day, be­fore Malian com­man­dos stormed the build­ing and freed 170 hostages, many of them for­eign­ers.

Xi called for the rel­e­vant de­part­ments to boost se­cu­rity work “out­side China’s bor­ders”.

“China will strengthen co­op­er­a­tion with the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity, res­o­lutely crack down on vi­o­lent ter­ror­ist oper­a­tions that dev­as­tate in­no­cent lives and safe­guard world peace and se­cu­rity,” the For­eign Min­istry quoted him as say­ing in a state­ment on its web­site.

The three Chi­nese cit­i­zens killed in the ho­tel at­tack were ex­ec­u­tives from the state-owned China Rail­way Con­struc­tion Corp , the com­pany said in a state­ment on its web­site.

“China Rail­way Con­struc­tion Corp is deeply sad­dened by the deaths of the three employees, and we ex­press our deep con­do­lences to the vic­tims’ fam­i­lies and strongly con­demn the atroc­i­ties com­mit­ted by the ter­ror­ists,” it said. Zhou Tianx­i­ang and Wang Xuan­shang, gen­eral man­ager and deputy gen­eral man­ager of the com­pany’s in­ter­na­tional di­vi­sion, and Chang Xue­hui, gen­eral man­ager of its West Africa di­vi­sion, were killed, the state­ment said.

The For­eign Min­istry said four other Chi­nese na­tion­als were among the res­cued hostages.

The at­tack on the ho­tel was claimed by ji­hadist group Al-Moura­bitoun and AlQaeda in the Is­lamic Maghreb (AQIM), and is the lat­est in a se­ries of deadly raids this year in Mali, which has bat­tled Is­lamist rebels based in its desert north for years. China vowed this week to bring to jus­tice those re­spon­si­ble for killing one of its cit­i­zens af­ter Is­lamic State said it had killed a Chi­nese cap­tive.

A man who worked for a Bel­gian re­gional par­lia­ment and an Amer­i­can aid worker were also killed. Moscow said Rus­sians were also among the vic­tims. Beijing has re­peat­edly de­nounced Is­lamist mil­i­tants and urged the world to step up co­or­di­na­tion in com­bat­ing Is­lamic State, though it has been re­luc­tant to get in­volved on the ground in Syria and Iraq where the group largely op­er­ates. — Reuters

The wreck­age of a he­li­copter car­ry­ing tourists is seen crashed in a crevasse on Fox Glacier, a scenic glacier in South Is­land, New Zealand yes­ter­day. — AP

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