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Last Updated: Tuesday, 23 September, 2003, 09:24 GMT 10:24 UK
Grand Canyon crash bodies found
Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon: One of the world's most popular tourist destinations
Rescue workers have recovered the bodies of six tourists and the pilot of a helicopter which crashed in the Grand Canyon.

The aircraft came down in the western reaches of the canyon, in the American state of Arizona, on Saturday.

Recovery teams had to abseil down the canyon's steep walls to reach the bodies.

A spokesman for the local sheriff's office, Carlos Rooks, said the helicopter had burst into flames on impact.

The sheriff's office said the pilot and two of the passengers were Japanese citizens, and that two others were German tourists.

The National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration are among the agencies investigating the crash.

History of crashes

The chief executive of Sundance Helicopters, which operated the aircraft, said it had been flying tourists to a helipad along the Colorado River, where they were due to board a boat.

Jim Granquist added that to his knowledge, the helicopter had no record of mechanical problems, and that this was the first fatal accident involving a Sundance helicopter.

The accident is said to be the worst Grand Canyon tour crash since 1995, when a plane trying to return to Grand Canyon Airport crashed, killing eight people.

In August 2001, a sight-seeing helicopter crashed in the same area, killing six people on board.

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