Officials in Hawaii search for survivors after finding crashed tour helicopter that had 7 people on board

Coast Guard crews are searching for a helicopter with seven people onboard that failed to return from a tour off Kauai's Napali coast in Hawaii.

Posted: Dec 27, 2019 6:37 AM
Updated: Dec 27, 2019 7:30 PM


Officials are hopeful that the seven people who were on a tour helicopter that crashed Thursday on Kauai, Hawaii, are still alive.

Battalion Chief Solomon Kanoho of the Kauai Fire Department said debris from the aircraft was found in a remote area of the island and he had no 'actionable information' on the status of the pilot and six passengers that were on board.

'We still hold out hope (they survived),' he told reporters Friday. Kanoho said several companies of firefighters were at the crash site.

The debris was found in a state park on the island's northwest side, police said in a news release.

Kanoho said the passengers were from two families and one family was a group of four. Two of the passengers were children, officials said.

The crash occurred along the usual route that the tour helicopters fly, Kanoho said.

Multiple agencies, including the US Coast Guard, the US Navy and the Kauai Fire Department, were involved in searching for the helicopter. They were conducting inland searches and coordinating a ground search of the shoreline. Other private helicopter companies were aiding in the search.

The last communication from the pilot came around 4:40 p.m. local time, Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Sara Muir told CNN Friday, about 40 minutes before the helicopter was due to return. At that time, the aircraft was leaving Waimeia Canyon, Muir said.

Safari Helicopters has confirmed its helicopter was missing but declined to provide additional details.

The aircraft was equipped with an electronic locator, but officials did not receive a signal from it, Muir said.

The Coast Guard said it was notified of the missing helicopter just after 6 p.m. and launched a MH-65 Dolphin rescue helicopter crew, a cutter and other resources.

Petty Officer 1st Class Robert Cox, of Coast Guard Joint Rescue Command Center Honolulu, previously said weather conditions in the search area were 'challenging,' with low visibility and blustery winds, according to CNN affiliate KHNL/KGMB.

'There was a cold front that came through the area around that time, bringing scattered showers and an increase of wind gusts,' CNN meteorologist Robert Shackelford said.

Several tour companies conduct helicopter tours every day on Kauai, depending on the weather, the Coast Guard said. Nearly 80% of the island — sometimes called the 'Garden Island' — is uninhabited. Some parts are only accessible by sea or air, according to Hawaii's travel website.

Earlier this year, three people were killed on the island of Oahu when their tour helicopter crashed in a residential neighborhood.

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