UPDATE: 3:26 a.m. EST -- Two Australians and four British tourists are believed to have been killed in Saturday’s helicopter crash over New Zealand’s tourist site of Fox Glacier, police said, according to Sydney Morning Herald.
Tasman police reportedly said that formal identification will take some time, and New Zealand authorities were in touch with Australian and British embassies.
A helicopter in New Zealand carrying seven people crashed Saturday at Fox Glacier, a popular tourist site on the country’s South Island, authorities said. Weather analysts have blamed climatic conditions for the crash.
The helicopter, owned by Alpine Adventures, went down at about 11 a.m. (5 p.m. EST Friday) on the glacier. Police said wreckage of the plane was found inside a crevasse on Fox Glacier, the Associated Press reported.
Difficult topography and weather conditions hampered the rescue operations and delayed the recovery of bodies. "I'm not going to risk any more lives, we've lost seven," Inspector John Canning said, according to Stuff.co.nz.
Authorities are yet to identify the deceased. New Zealand’s Transport Accident Investigation Commission has launched an inquiry into the incident.
Grey District Mayor Tony Kokshoorn said the area where the helicopter crashed had “terrible” weather conditions, the New Zealand Herald newspaper reported. Kokshoorn added that the region experienced heavy rain overnight and low clouds resulted in "poor visibility."
"It wouldn't be a good day to be flying helicopters," Kokshoorn reportedly said. "Everything is against a rescue [mission]. It will be cold up there. And the problem is amplified by the cloud cover."
Fox Glacier that attracts thousands of tourists every year also witnessed a crash in September 2010, in which nine people were killed after a skydiving plane crashed after takeoff.