East River helicopter crash leaves at least 2 dead, 3 in critical condition

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MANHATTAN — At least two people were killed after a helicopter went down in the East River Sunday night, officials said.

‏A helicopter crashed in the East River on Sunday night. It was upside down in the water.
(Twitter/tuanlungwang)

The helicopter went into the water just south of East 86th Street around 7 p.m. Six people were on the helicopter, including the pilot, officials said. The pilot, who was able to get out of the helicopter by himself, survived the crash in stable condition. Three passengers are in critical condition.

The five passengers were tightly harnessed and they had to be cut out of the submerged helicopter to be removed. They were in water colder than 40 degrees while they waited for help.

Identifying information was not immediately available for the victims, but they were on the helicopter owned by Liberty Helicopter Tours for a private tour.

A private tugboat was the first on the scene and assisted in the rescue, NYPD Commissioner James O' Neill said. The NYPD and FDNY divers were on scene.

"We are monitoring the situation and our thoughts and hope for safe recovery are with those who were aboard," Gov. Andrew Cuomo tweeted. "We are thankful for our first responders at the scene."

The helicopter is a Eurocopter AS350, an FAA spokesperson said. It is reportedly upside down in the water.

Video posted on Twitter shows a red helicopter hit the water. It tips over as its rotors keep turning, slapping at the water.

"As it approached the water it just sank," Arineh Nazarian, a witness, told PIX11. "It was quite fast."

The FAA is investigating. The NTSB will determine probable cause of the accident.

The helicopter did not sink and has been secured.

Police are advising drivers to expect heavy traffic and emergency personnel in the area. Drivers should avoid northbound travel on FDR Drive until further notice.