Page last updated at 20:55 GMT, Sunday, 9 August 2009 21:55 UK

New York air crash search resumes


Crash bodies pulled from NY river

Rescuers have resumed their search for debris and bodies from a helicopter and a small plane that collided and crashed into the Hudson River, near New York.

Nine people are presumed to have died in Saturday's accident. Seven bodies have now been recovered.

The collision occurred between Hoboken, in New Jersey, and Manhattan, just across the river, on Saturday.

A pilot and five Italian tourists were on the helicopter. Three people, including a child, were on the plane.

On Sunday, New York Police Department boats circled buoys marking the location of the wreckage of the helicopter, by Hoboken.

The plane has not yet been found, officials said.


They said poor visibility and river currents were hampering the search.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said on Saturday the emergency operation had changed from a rescue to a recovery mission and that the incident was "not going to have a happy ending".

He said it appeared the plane had flown into the rear of the helicopter, but stressed that a full investigation had to be carried out.

'Huge crash'

Debbie Hersman, head of the National Transportation Safety Board, said that a helicopter pilot on the ground had seen the plane approaching the helicopter.


Eyewitnesses describe Hudson River crash

"He radioed the accident helicopter and told him: 'One-lima-hotel. You have a fixed-wing behind you.' There was no response from the pilot," she said.

The pilot on the ground then saw the plane's right wing strike the helicopter and both aircraft "descended into the Hudson River", she added.

Television footage showed rescue craft heading to the site - about level with Manhattan's West 14th Street - from both sides of the Hudson River after the incident happened.

We saw the helicopter propellers fly all over
Katie Tanski

"We heard first a huge crash, a boom almost," said Melissa Green, who was having lunch on the New York bank of the river at the time.

"We turned around and saw these two mushroom splashes," she told the Associated Press news agency.

Other witnesses described seeing debris - including the plane's wing - falling into the water.

"We saw the helicopter propellers fly all over," said Hoboken resident Katie Tanski.

'Clear' weather

The helicopter was operated by Liberty Helicopters, a sightseeing company that flies tourists around sites such as the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.

The light plane took off from Teterboro Airport in New Jersey and was heading to Ocean City in the same state, an aviation official said.

The weather at the time of the collision, noon local time (1600 GMT) on Saturday, was said to be clear and mild.

In January, a passenger plane with 155 people aboard ditched into the Hudson River without loss of life, after apparently hitting a flock of geese.

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