England

Two dead in Flamborough coast helicopter crash

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Media captionThe cause of the crash is yet to be established

Two men have died after a private helicopter crashed off the coast of East Yorkshire, police said.

The helicopter was on a flight from West Lothian to Nottinghamshire when it crashed near Selwick Bay, Flamborough.

Police said the cause of the crash, at about 13:40 BST, was unclear.

Eyewitnesses reported hearing a "loud crack" before the helicopter, a Bell JetRanger, went into the sea. The wreckage is thought to be 200ft (60m) below the cliff top.

The bodies were recovered from the aircraft shortly before 17:00 BST, police said.

Image copyright Kipp Baker/Bell Helicopter Textron Inc.
Image caption A Bell JetRanger helicopter can carry up to six passengers

There was "a quantity of what appears to be aviation fuel in the water around the crash site, making it potentially unsafe at present", a police spokesman said.

'Heard helicopter'

The men were flying to an airfield in Retford, Nottinghamshire, when the helicopter got into difficulty at Flamborough.

An Edinburgh Airport spokesman said the helicopter had taken off from Dechmont, near Livingston, in West Lothian.

Paul Litten, commercial director at Humberside Airport, said the medium-sized helicopter was due to land for refuelling between 13:30 and 14:00 BST, before flying on to its destination.

He said the aircraft had "not handed over" to air traffic control at Humberside Airport.

Eyewitness Chris Palmer told BBC Radio 5 Live: "We heard the helicopter. It was like a white, private helicopter going along the coast.

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Media captionEyewitness Chris Palmer tells 5 live: "We heard a really loud crack"

"We all heard this really loud crack and looked up again.

'Smell of fuel'

"The helicopter started to descend, almost like a plane when it lands.

"It then went behind the cliff and that's when I called the emergency services. I never actually heard it hit the sea."

Golfers at Flamborough Head Golf Club said they thought the helicopter was trying to land near the club's 17th green.

Course Chairman Rod Marwood said he was on the course and saw part of the incident.

Image caption A rescue helicopter was used as part of the investigation

"It was just another one of the helicopters we get flying by, especially at the north [side of the head]," he said.

"I had not taken much notice, but then the engine noise changed. I was a fair way away but could see it going down and trying to get to land.

"Then it just disappeared down the side of the cliffs and never reappeared.

"Some guys heard a bump or smack and there was smell of aviation fuel. It was over in four or five seconds".

Image caption The crash happened close to a golf course

The RNLI said lifeboats from Bridlington and Flamborough were sent to the scene, but were later stood down.

Flamborough RNLI crew member Cole Ibbotson said: 'We could see the wreckage of the helicopter at the bottom of the cliff and could see where it had hit.

"[But] the swell was too big for the lifeboat to get in close so we were tasked to undertake a search pattern for [the] wreckage...

"We recovered a number of items which we have passed on to the police."

People have been advised to stay away from the area "until further notice due to the dangerous cliff edges".

A police cordon is expected to remain in place overnight.

Image caption Lifeboats from Bridlington and Flamborough were at the scene but stood down at 17:45 BST

Durham Tees Valley Airport said the helicopter had flown through its air space.

In a statement, the airport said: "Air traffic control at Durham Tees Valley did handle the flight, which it is believed originated in Scotland, whilst in local airspace.

"Subsequently the pilot of the aircraft contacted air traffic control to state that he had landed at a private site and was then proceeding to Humberside Airport."

The UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) said a team of investigators was heading to the crash site.

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