Collision of two helicopters in the air Australia Four people were killed and three were in critical condition, authorities said Monday.
The collision took place at around 14:00 local time on the Gold Coast, south of Brisbane, near the popular tourist strip of Main Beach.
Queensland Police Inspector Gary Worrell, regional duty officer for the south-east region, told reporters: “When those two aircraft collided, they landed on a sandbank just outside the Sea World Resort.”
He added that it was difficult for emergency services to access the sandbank, which is located far from the shore.
Queensland Ambulance Service (QAS) Janey Shearman said there were thirteen people in the two helicopters. Of them, 4 people died, 3 people were seriously injured, and 6 people were lightly injured, including broken glass.
According to him, all the injured were taken to the hospital.
Photos taken from the site show debris lying on the sandbar, personnel gathered on land and numerous ships in the surrounding waters.
Worrell said that while it was too early to determine the exact cause of the crash, preliminary investigations indicated that one helicopter was taking off and the other was landing when it collided.
One helicopter had its windshield removed and landed safely on the island. The other (helicopter) crashed and turned upside down.”
He added that after the accident, nearby police and public representatives came to the scene and tried to evacuate those inside the helicopter and provide them with first aid.
Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) chief commissioner Angus Mitchell said in a statement that an investigation into the collision has been launched.
Investigators from the ATSB’s offices in Brisbane and Canberra will be sent to the scene to collect evidence, examine the wreckage and map the site, as well as interview witnesses and related parties, Mitchell added.
He asked those who witnessed the collision or saw the helicopters flying to contact the investigators. According to him, the preliminary report will be issued in the next six to eight weeks, and the final report will be issued after the completion of the investigation.
In a statement released on Twitter, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk expressed her “deepest condolences” to the families of the victims and everyone affected. “What happened on the Gold Coast today is an unimaginable tragedy,” he said.
Police said Sea World Drive was closed to traffic and urged drivers and pedestrians to stay away from the area.
Sea World Drive is the main entrance to the popular tourist marine park in the heart of the Gold Coast. It is currently the peak tourist season in the region, and schools are closed for the long summer vacation.
CNN has reached out to Sea World for comment.
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