Helicopter crashes into East River in New York City
A woman has died and two others are seriously injured after a helicopter plunged into a river in New York City shortly after take-off, officials say.
Witnesses described how the privately owned Bell 206 aircraft span out of control before it fell into East River near 34th Street in midtown Manhattan.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg told reporters it is thought the helicopter was upside down when it crashed.
He said it was not clear what caused the helicopter to spin out of control.
Mr Bloomberg also told Tuesday's news conference that two of the passengers were believed to be Britons living in Portugal and the other two passengers, one of whom is also thought to be British, live in Australia.
At least seven boats joined the frantic rescue effort earlier, along with divers.
"We got the call at 15:22 (19:22 GMT) for us to respond to a helicopter crash," a spokesman for the Fire Department of New York told the Press Association.
"We did, and four people were pulled from out of the water. Two females are in a critical condition. One had suffered a cardiac arrest and one a respiratory arrest."
The fire department is delivering updates via its Twitter feed.
Weather conditions were clear with visibility of up to 10 miles (16km) and wind gusts at up to 20mph, according to the LaGuardia airport weather station.
Dan Sweeney, manager of nearby restaurant The Water Club, told US news outlet NBC NewYork that the helicopter appeared to be landing when it crashed.
"It looked like it was trying to land at the heliport and missed the landing," he said.
"It went down pretty fast. You could see the splash. You could see the top of it and it just disappeared."
Joy Garnett, a witness on a nearby dock, told the Associated Press news agency that she had seen the aircraft lift about 25ft (8m) off the ground, before it span around two or three times and then dropped into the water.
The helicopter flipped over, its blades sticking up out of the water, and was "obviously out of control", she said.
"It didn't make much noise," Ms Garnett said. "It was just a splash and sunk."
Carlos Acevedo, who was in a nearby park with his wife, said he saw the helicopter hit the water.
"It sank fast, in seconds. Like the water was sucking it in," he said.
The US Coast Guard said the East River had been closed to commercial traffic.
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