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A joyride turned deadly after two helicopters collided midair in Australia's Gold Coast, near the Sea World theme park.
The accident left four dead and three critically injured as nearby beachgoers rushed to provide emergency aid to the casualties, reported the Associated Press (AP).
Queensland state police acting inspector Gary Worrell said in a news conference that initial findings indicate that one helicopter was taking off while the other was landing.
#BREAKING: Channel 9 has published video that shows the Gold Coast helicopter crash, though they’ve cut it off before the moment of impact
Families were waving to the passengers and witnessed the crash happen @6NewsAU pic.twitter.com/gkumxc3m7k
— Leonardo Puglisi (@Leo_Puglisi6) January 2, 2023
As seen in video footage posted on Twitter, the helicopter that appeared to be landing was about to clip the tail of the helicopter which appeared to be taking off.
In the aftermath of the incident, one helicopter managed to land safely, while the other landed upside down in the water.
Helicopter crash outside #SeaWorld on the #GoldCoast. Possibly two helicopters collided.
It’s bad. 😰 pic.twitter.com/K3YYyxXWum
— Jet Ski Bandit (@fulovitboss) January 2, 2023
Footage of the aftermath showed debris strewn all over the beach.
According to News Corp Australia, a witness told Melbourne radio station 3AW that patrons at Sea World heard a "massive, massive bang".
He said that he "didn't really know what had happened" and described the incident as "pretty scary stuff".
At least 13 people were injured in the collision, among which three – one woman and two young boys – are in critical condition, reported News Corp Australia.
Later reports suggested that a total of nine people were taken to the hospital for their injuries, according to Queensland emergency services.
#FinalUpdate - Eight patients were transported to Gold Coast University Hospital, and one patient was transported to Queensland Children’s Hospital following the earlier incident at #MainBeach.
— Queensland Ambulance (@QldAmbulance) January 2, 2023
Beachgoers rushed to help
Worrell was quoted by News Corp Australia as saying that police and emergency services were alerted to a two-helicopter midair just opposite Sea World at about 12pm Singapore time.
“Police and emergency services and members of the public attended the incident," he said, noting that people on Jet Skis, family boaters and beachgoers rushed to assist the trapped and inured, reported AP.
"Members of the public and police tried to remove the people and they commenced first aid and tried to get those people to safety from an airframe that was upside down," he added.
The Australian Transport and Safety Bureau (ATSB) issued a statement claiming that they are investigating the collision and appealed for witnesses to come forward.
“Transport safety investigators with experience in helicopter operations, maintenance and survivability engineering are deploying from the ATSB’s Brisbane and Canberra offices and are expected to begin arriving at the accident site from Monday afternoon," the statement wrote.
As part of their investigation, ATSB investigators will examine the wreckage, "recover any relevant components for further examination", gather any available recorded data for analysis, and interview witnesses and other involved parties".
A spokesperson for Sea World Helicopters told ABC news that both helicopters belonged to the company.
Sea World helicopters is a separate company from the theme park.
Condolences pour in
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese posted a message of condolence to the victims on Twitter.
Australia is shocked by the news of the terrible and tragic helicopter incident today on the Gold Coast.
My thoughts are with all those affected, including first responders, and my deepest sympathies are with those who are grieving.
— Anthony Albanese (@AlboMP) January 2, 2023
Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk also expressed her "deepest sympathies" to the victims' families.
What has happened on the Gold Coast today is an unthinkable tragedy. My deepest sympathies are with each of the families and everyone affected by this terrible accident.
— Annastacia Palaszczuk (@AnnastaciaMP) January 2, 2023
Top image via Twitter
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