A Hawaii helicopter crash killed five people after crashing into the island of Molokai and bursting into flames Thursday.
Maui County Communications Director Rod Antone initially told the International Business Times that police confirmed that five people were listed on the flight manifesto for the chopper, but only four bodies had been found as of Thursday afternoon Hawaiian-Aleutian Standard Time (HAST).
But firefighters shortly thereafter said they had found a fifth body at the scene of the crash, according to local news channel KHON TV.
Police and fire are working with first responders right now, Antone said. We let the emergency responders do their thing and at some point we're sure the [Federal Aviation Administration] and [National Transportation Safety Board] will get involved.
Antone said the crash occurred while Alan Arakwa, the mayor of Maui, was meeting with world leaders at the Asian-Pacific Economic Conference in Honolulu, but that as of Thursday afternoon HAST he and everyone else in Hawaii were trying to determine how best to deal with the tragic accident.
We've had helicopter crashes before but I don't have a number or anything, Antone said. We're still trying to find out what happened and everything's very fresh right now. I don't think anyone's coping just yet. We're dealing with the situation and trying to get the facts.
Hawaii News Now reported that the helicopter was engulfed in flames, that it was raining all day and that the craft was owned by Blue Hawaiian Helicopter. Blue Hawaiian did not immediately return calls from the International Business Times seeking comment.
The chopper went down on a ridge behind an elementary school at the eastern end of the island of Molokai, a sparsely-populated 38-mile land mass located 25 miles east of Oahu, according to the Honolulu Star Advertiser.
An emergency call first came in about the crash Thursday at 12:14 p.m. HAST, the paper reported Thursday.
A helicopter with at least three people on board went down on the east end of Molokai, a Federal Aviation Administration spokesman told the paper. The helicopter is engulfed in flames. Fire crews told us they pulled three fatalities from the aircraft but don't know if there is anyone else inside.
The Hawaii Helicopter Crash website, which tracks such incidents in the state, showed that there were at least seven helicopter crashes there between 2000 and 2005. It does not list any crashes since that date, but the site may have not been updated since then.