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Last Updated: Saturday, 26 January 2008, 23:31 GMT
Two dead after helicopter crash
A police officer guards the wreckage of the helicopter
The bodies of the victims remain in the wrecked helicopter
Two people have died in a helicopter crash at a golf resort near Harrogate, North Yorkshire.

Police, fire and ambulance services were called to attend the scene in woodland at Rudding Park - a luxury hotel and golf resort - at 1630 GMT.

The victims, a middle-aged man and a middle-aged woman, both from the West Yorkshire area, are thought to have died instantly, police said.

The helicopter had just taken off when it crashed.

The fire service said the area was searched for other casualties but no-one else was found.

It would appear to be a really tragic incident and our job now is to try and establish the cause
Insp Tad Nowakowski, North Yorkshire Police

An investigation has been launched by the police and the Air Accidents Investigation Branch.

Weather forecasters said there had been high winds in the area earlier, which had subsided by the time of the crash but conditions were still gusty.

Police say the deceased, who were pronounced dead at the scene, were due to be formally identified on Monday.

Insp Tad Nowakowski, of North Yorkshire Police said their bodies would be removed from the wreckage of the helicopter on Sunday.

Map

"The helicopter is in the middle of a small wood," he said.

"We understand they had just left Rudding Park Hotel. The two people are from the West Yorkshire area, the helicopter is a private helicopter.

"My thoughts and prayers are with their family and friends.

"It would appear to be a really tragic incident and our job now is to try and establish the cause, which will take some time."

A private function at the 2,000 acre hotel and resort, which was recently named the 12th most luxurious in the world, has still gone ahead.

Former guests have included former US presidents Bill Clinton and George Bush Senior, former Russian president Mikhail Gorbachev and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, of South Africa.

The landlord of a nearby pub said flights over the hotel, which has an 18-hole Championship golf course, occurred daily.

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