Mid-air collision between two helicopters Australia Authorities said on Monday that four people were dead and three others were in critical condition.
The collision occurred around 2pm local time near the popular tourist strip of Main Beach on the Gold Coast, south of Brisbane.
“When these two planes collided, they crashed onto the sandy bank outside Sea World Resort,” Queensland Police Inspector Gary Worrell told reporters.
He added that it was difficult for the emergency services to reach the sandy bank, which is not far from the coast.
There were 13 people on board the two helicopters, according to Jenny Sherman, of the Queensland Ambulance Service (QAS). Of these, four people died, three were seriously injured, and six sustained minor injuries, including cuts from shattered glass.
She added that all the injured were taken to the hospital.
Images from the site show the wreck lying on a strip of sand, with individuals clustered on land and several ships in the surrounding waters.
Worrell said that although it is too early to say the exact cause of the accident, preliminary investigations indicate that one of the helicopters was taking off and the other landing when they collided.
One helicopter “had its windshield removed, and landed safely on the island. The other (helicopter) was wrecked and was upside down.”
He added that after the accident, nearby police and members of the public rushed to the site, trying to remove and provide first aid to those inside the helicopter.
Angus Mitchell, chief commissioner of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB), said in a statement that an investigation had been opened into the collision.
Mitchell added that investigators from the ATSB offices in Brisbane and Canberra will be deployed to the scene to gather evidence, examine the wreckage and map the site, as well as interview witnesses and interested parties.
People who witnessed the collision or saw the helicopters flying were asked to contact investigators. He said the initial report will be released in the next six to eight weeks, with a final report after the investigation is complete.
In a statement posted on Twitter, Queensland’s premier, Anastasia Palaczczuk, expressed her “deepest sympathy” to the families of the victims and everyone affected. “What happened on the Gold Coast today is an unimaginable tragedy,” she said.
Police say Sea World Drive has been closed to traffic and have urged motorists and pedestrians to avoid the area.
Sea World Drive is the main access point to the marine park popular with tourists in the heart of the Gold Coast. It’s peak tourist season in the area now, with schools closed for the summer long holidays.
CNN has reached out to Sea World for comment.
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