Teams combing the wreckage of a Hawaii sightseeing helicopter that crashed on Kauai island found no sign of survivors on Friday and recovered 6 sets of human remains before suspending the search due to bad weather, police and fire officials said.
The announcement came in a news conference nearly 24 hours after the sightseeing helicopter went down in a remote area of rugged terrain near the end of an air tour of the island’s famed Na Pali Coast.
The confirmed manifest of the aircraft, flown by Kauai-based tour operator Safari Helicopters, consisted of 6 passengers, 2 of them children, and a pilot, Kauai County fire battalion chief Solomon Kanoho told reporters.
The identities of the dead were being kept confidential until next of kin could be notified, authorities said.
“We are heartbroken by this tragedy and we continue to ask the public to consider the sensitive nature of this devastating situation,” Mayor Derek Kawakami said in a statement. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and loved ones of all victims during this extremely difficult time.”
The Kauai fire department called off its search and recovery efforts in the late afternoon due to fog and poor visibility but plans to resume the operation at daybreak on Saturday, Kanoho said.
Although the remains of just six of the seven people who were aboard the ill-fated aircraft have been recovered, Kanoho added: “There are no indications of survivors.”
Kanoho previously said the passengers on board the helicopter had been in two groups – a party of two from one family and a party of four from another.
While the cause of the crash has yet to be determined, Kanoho said the area where the helicopter went down had experienced “some very bad weather” beforehand. He said the chopper crashed within its prescribed flight route.
The National Transportation Safety Board, which is sending a team to the wreckage site to investigate, reported in May that there have been 8 accidents involving tour helicopters in Hawaii over the past 5 years, with four deaths and 18 injuries.