TWO people were killed today and three kids were badly injured in New Zealand after a helicopter they were travelling in spiralled out of control and plunged into a river.
Brave locals waded into the water and rescued the seriously hurt children from the wreckage amid fears it was about to explode.
The injured kids were then airlifted from the crash site in the Kekerengu River in New Zealand’s South Island to a hospital in the capital city of Wellington.
It is unclear at this stage whether the dead adults were the children’s parents.
Eyewitness Ian Mehrtens told Newstalk ZB: "It did a few twirls, then it started to spiral and then it just dived.
"It landed on its side."
Helicopters frequently transport tourists to the beauty spot during summer, he said.
We managed to get them out… because we were concerned about it blowing up
Describing the rescue, Mr Mehrtens said: "A couple of the passengers were crying out in pain… there were a couple of guys there trying to lift out the three children that were in it.
"We managed to get them out but it took a while because we were concerned about it blowing up."
A team from the country’s Transport Accident Investigation Commission have been combing through the wreckage as they work out what caused the crash.
They are appealing for witnesses — especially anyone who may have captured the accident on their car dash-cam or on their phone camera.
A perimeter has been set up around the wreckage to protect evidence.
Fire and Emergency New Zealand (Fenz) operational insurance team member Darryl Papesch told NZ Herald he was one of the first responders on the scene.
He said: "The three people injured were young … they weren't adults, I'd say children, definitely children."
Local people removed the five occupants before a local with a tractor pulled the helicopter up the beach.
He said: "The locals were outstanding, in a chaotic situation they were outstanding."
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