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