Nine persons were presumed dead when a helicopter carrying a group of Italian tourists had a mid-air collision with a small private plane over the Hudson river in New York, authorities said today.
The crash, which sent debris flying around and spread panic among people on the New Jersey waterfront, has raised questions about the safety standards of for-hire sightseeing flights, particularly after reports emerged that a federal watchdog earlier warned about lax oversight for such services.
The bodies of two adults and one child were recovered after the collision, which occurred at around noon yesterday over the Hudson between New York and Hoboken, New Jersey.
All nine people in both aircrafts are thought to have been killed in the collision, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said. "There was an accident which we do not believe was survivable," he said.
Five Italian tourists visiting New York from Bologna are among those believed killed, CNN reported. The tourists, who apparently died with the chopper's pilot, were part of a group of 12 visiting the US, it said citing law enforcement sources.
The helicopter, operated by Liberty Helicopter Sightseeing Tours, rammed into the single-engine Piper PA-32 Saratoga plane that took off from New Jersey's Teterboro Airport, authorities said.
Police boats and divers on Sunday recovered a piece of a submerged helicopter and a body as investigators resumed their search of the Hudson River for wreckage from the helicopter and a small plane that collided in midair.
Investigators also renewed their search for pictures and video of Saturday's accident, which was seen by thousands out enjoying a beautiful summer day.