Helicopter crashes in Grand Canyon, killing 3 tourists

Burning wreckage at the crash site in Arizona.   Teddy Fujimoto via AP

Burning wreckage at the crash site in Arizona. Teddy Fujimoto via AP

She added that her dream was to be a veterinary nurse.

"We are providing support to the families of six British visitors involved in a helicopter accident at the Grand Canyon on February 10, and we are in close contact with the USA emergency services", a Foreign Office spokeswoman said.

The survivors had to wait for eight hours before they were rescued and airlifted out of the West Rim of the canyon.

The tour left Las Vegas for the Grand Canyon near Quartermaster Canyon, about 60 miles from the Hualapai Nation police headquarters in Peach Springs.

"Yesterday, we were hampered by severe weather conditions, we had gusts up to 50mph".

He said first responders and rescuers had arrived at the scene within 30 minutes of the crash: "Without their valiant and diligent efforts to stabilize and rescue the survivors under extreme conditions, we may have had more loss of life", he said.

A still from video footage of the crash's aftermath.

Fujimoto, a Las Vegas photographer who was doing a wedding shoot at the time of the crash, said he suddenly saw people running toward the edge of a gulch.

He says he followed and saw the black smoke from the helicopter wreckage. "It was frightful. unimaginable".

The three other passengers, and the pilot, were taken to hospital.

Hualapai Nation Police Chief Francis Bradley said six passengers and a pilot were on board the Papillon helicopter when it crashed around 5:20 p.m.

The survivors could not be airlifted out of the canyon until around 2am because of high winds, police said.

FAA spokesman Allen Kenitzer earlier said the aircraft sustained considerable damage in the crash.

National Transportation Safety Board officials were expected at the crash scene by Sunday afternoon to begin investigating what caused the chopper to go down, Bradley said. The company's website says it flies roughly 600,000 passengers a year on Grand Canyon and other tours. It also notes that it "abides by flight safety rules and regulations that substantially exceed the regulations required by the Federal Aviation Administration".

In August 2001, a Grand Canyon tour helicopter operated by Papillon crashed and burned near Meaview, Arizona.

British national Becky Dobson, 27, was identified as one of the three people killed in the helicopter wreck.

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"Our top priority is the care and needs of our passengers and our staff".

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