Authorities in Hawaii say the remains of six people have been recovered from the site of a tour helicopter crash on a Hawaiian island. But by about 3.30 p.m. on Friday, fog and poor visibility forced Kauai firefighters to suspend their search for the seventh person until Saturday morning.
Solomon Kanoho, the Battalion Chief with the Kauai Fire Department, told a media briefing Friday that ground and air crews were continuing the search for survivors. Recovery efforts were suspended Saturday afternoon. The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the crash. Officials said the Safari Helicopter was conducting a tour with a pilot and six passengers on board.
Two of those aboard the Safari Helicopter were believed to be children.
He declined to describe details of the wreckage out of respect for the victims' loved ones. It had taken off from the town of Lihue. He said he could not confirm Thursday's weather.
Steep terrain, low visibility, choppy seas and rain had complicated the search, the agency said.
The pilot was reportedly on the "prescribed route" at the time of the crash.
The chopper has an electronic locator on board but no signals have been received, the Coast Guard said.
"The search continues for the seven people and any sign of the aircraft on Kauai", said Lt. Chloe Harmon, command duty officer, Coast Guard Joint Rescue Coordination Center Honolulu.
The NTSB, which mentioned it was sending a three-member group to research the crash, reported in Might that there had been eight accidents involving Hawaii tour helicopters over the previous 5 years, with 4 deaths and 18 accidents. The plane crashed at the top of a mountain on the island of Kauai, authorities said.
Case went on to address the safety regulations surrounding helicopter tours and other small aircraft operations.
The helicopter company, identified as Safari Helicopters, contacted the Coast Guard on the evening of December 26 after the tour didn't return to the airport as scheduled.
Hawaiian tour helicopter operations are under increasing scrutiny after a fatal accident this week, one of several accidents that occurred recently in the state, with Congressman calling travel unsafe and unprepared appropriate monitoring.
The corporate made that report after a tour helicopter went down in a residential neighborhood on the island of Oahu in April, killing three people.
Due to the time of the notification, the Fire Department notified the Coast Guard, which used its night-vision capabilities, and requested additional assets.
Safari Helicopters offered its condolences to the families of the victims Saturday, and said it was cooperating with the ongoing investigation.