Page last updated at 01:37 GMT, Monday, 22 June 2009 02:37 UK

Crocodile causes helicopter crash

Helicopter passenger buried in sand, 22/06
The pilot took drastic action after realising help was a long way away

A helicopter pilot in Australia became so excited when he spotted a crocodile that he flew in for a closer look - and crashed into mudflats.

He suffered minor injuries, but his passenger was seriously hurt in the crash near the northern city of Darwin.

Concerned that his friend could get hypothermia, the pilot buried him in sand before raising the alarm.

Medical officials said doctors thought the man was dead - until they saw his head moving in the sand.

Air ambulance operator Careflight said in a statement that the pilot had been flying along the Dundee Beach, 60km (37 miles) from Darwin, when he tried to turn to look at a crocodile.

"The pilot said after starting the turn the next thing he remembered was being upside down in the mud," the statement said.

"The pilot dragged his passenger to the safety of the shore, away from crocodiles, then buried the man in the sand up to his neck in an attempt to prevent his companion from developing hypothermia."

The pilot then used his satellite phone to alert emergency services.

Ian Badham, director of Careflight, said the case was "bizarre".

"A doctor thought initially the passenger was dead as he was buried in sand," Mr Badham said.

"It turned out that the pilot had realised it might take rescue services until daylight to actually get there."

Mr Badham said the passenger was being treated in hospital for head, chest and arm injuries.

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