LONDON – Two helicopters have been involved in a fatal mid-air collision today near Sea World on Queensland’s Gold Coast.
According to the Australian national broadcaster ABC News, four people have died and three more are hospitalised in critical condition as a result of the mid-air collision between the two helicopters.
Witnesses and local police have said that one helicopter had been approaching to land, whilst the other aircraft was taking off when the collision occurred.
It is understood that all the occupants who died and the three now in critical condition were all passengers in the same helicopter.
One of the helicopters had plunged to the ground and crashed inverted, whilst the other had managed to land. A Sea World logo could be seen on the latter aircraft.
The accident comes during the peak summer tourism season on the Gold Coast.
The Australian transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) has issued a statement, with ATSB Chief Commissioner Angus Mitchell saying:
“The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) has commenced a transport safety investigation into the fatal mid-air collision involving two helicopters near Seaworld on the Gold Coast, Queensland on Monday afternoon.
“Transport safety investigators with experience in helicopter operations, maintenance and survivability engineering are deploying from the ATSB’s Brisbane and Canberra offices and are expected to begin arriving at the accident site from Monday afternoon.
“During the evidence gathering phase of the investigation, ATSB investigators will examine the wreckage and map the accident site. Investigators will also recover any relevant components for further examination at the ATSB’s technical facilities in Canberra, gather any available recorded data for analysis, and interview witnesses and other involved parties.
“The ATSB asks anyone who may have seen the collision, or who witnessed the helicopters in any phase of their flights, or who may have footage of any kind, to make contact via [email protected] at their earliest opportunity.
“The ATSB anticipates publishing a preliminary report detailing basic information gathered during the investigation’s evidence collection phase in approximately 6-8 weeks.
“A final report will be published at the conclusion of the investigation, however, should any critical safety issues be identified at any stage during the course of the investigation, the ATSB will immediately notify relevant parties so appropriate safety action can be taken.”