Two people died after a Eurocopter AS350 helicopter crashed into New York’s East River on Sunday night as it flipped upside down in the water.
Three other people are reported to be in a critical condition and are hospitalized whereas pilot has been rescued.
Witnesses on a waterfront esplanade near where the aircraft went down said the helicopter was flying noisily, then suddenly dropped into the water and quickly submerged. But the pilot appeared on the surface, holding onto a flotation device as a tugboat and then police boats approached.
Video taken by a bystander and posted on Twitter shows the red helicopter land hard in the water and then capsize, its rotors slapping at the water.
The AS350 helicopter, a private charter hired for a photo shoot, went down near Gracie Mansion, the mayoral residence, just north of Roosevelt Island. One person, the pilot, freed himself and was rescued by a tugboat, officials said.
Liberty Helicopters which offers both private charters and sightseeing tours owned the chopper.
Nigro and Police Commissioner James O’Neill said the rescue operation Sunday took place in a 4 mph current in water about 50 feet (15 meters) deep, under challenging conditions.
Officials did not immediately release the names of the pilot or passengers. A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) spokeswoman said the Eurocopter AS350 went down just after 7pm.
The helicopter was recovered in the rescue operation and towed to a pier.