Three British people have died in a helicopter accident at the Grand Canyon, the Foreign Office said.
Six passengers and a pilot were on board the Papillon Grand Canyon Helicopters aircraft when it crashed under unknown circumstances on Saturday evening on the Hualapai Nation’s land near Quartermaster Canyon, by the Grand Canyon’s west rim.
A witness said he saw flames and black smoke spewing from the crash site, heard explosions and saw victims who were bleeding and badly burned.
A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: “We are providing support to the families of six British visitors involved in a helicopter accident at the Grand Canyon on February 10, and we are in close contact with the US emergency services.”
Four survivors were being treated at a Nevada hospital on Sunday while emergency services tried to reach the helicopter’s wreckage.
Hualapai Nation police chief Francis Bradley said rescue crews had to be flown in, walk to the crash site and use night vision goggles to find their way around.
National Transportation Safety Board officials were expected at the crash scene by Sunday afternoon to begin investigating what caused the helicopter to go down, Bradley said. The Federal Aviation Administration also will be investigating the crash of the Eurocopter EC130, spokesman Allen Kenitzer said.
Witness Teddy Fujimoto, a Las Vegas photographer who was doing a wedding shoot at the time of the crash, said he suddenly saw people running toward the edge of a gulch.
“In the gulch, there was a helicopter, flames, smoke,” he said. “It was horrible.”
Fujimoto added that pilots of other helicopters in the area tried to descend into the gulch.
The tour company released a statement on Sunday, promising full cooperation with crash investigators and offering sympathy.
“It is with extreme sadness we extend our heartfelt sympathy to the families involved in this accident,” Papillon Group CEO Brenda Halvorson said. “Our top priority is the care and needs of our passengers and our staff.”