All five passengers dead after helicopter crashes in New York City’s East River

New York State Police are seen near East 34th Street/Midtown East Landing after a chartered Liberty Helicopters helicopter crashed into the East River in New York. (Reuters)
Updated 12 March 2018
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All five passengers dead after helicopter crashes in New York City’s East River

NEW YORK: A helicopter carrying six people crashed in New York City’s East River on Sunday, killing all passengers, while the pilot escaped, police said.
Two of the five passengers died at the scene and three were taken to two area hospitals where they later died, a spokesman for the New York City Police spokesman confirmed early Monday.
The pilot freed himself and was rescued and was treated and released in good condition from a hospital, police said.
The Federal Aviation Administration said the Eurocopter AS350 went down near the northern end of Roosevelt Island at about 7pm and was investigating. The National Transportation Safety Board said its investigative team would arrive on Monday.
“It’s a great tragedy,” said New York Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro at a press conference late Sunday. “It took a while for the divers to get these people out.”
Nigro said when the divers reached the helicopter it was inverted and in 50 feet of water with below 40-degree Fahrenheit water temperatures and four-mile-an hour currents.
The passengers were tightly harnessed and the harnesses had to be cut and removed to free the passengers in the helicopter, he added.
A Reuters photographer witnessed three people recovered by rescue divers being wheeled on stretchers onto a midtown pier shortly before 9 p.m.
New York City Police Commissioner James O’Neill said the aircraft was registered to Liberty Helicopters, a sightseeing and charter service in New York, and was on a private charter “photo shoot.”
The US Coast Guard launched three boats to aid in the response, joining New York City emergency responders.
“It kind of hit sideways and just flipped over,” Brianna Jesme, 22, an Upper East Side resident who witnessed the crash, told Reuters TV.
Video of the incident filmed by an onlooker and posted on Twitter showed a red helicopter descending toward the water at dusk, then landing with a large splash before tipping onto its right side, its tail lights still flashing.
Reuters could not immediately verify the authenticity of the footage.
The NYC Ferry said late Sunday on Twitter that service on the Astoria and East River routes was currently suspended until further notice because of the helicopter crash.


South Sudan vaccinates health teams in Ebola epidemic

Updated 11 min 12 sec ago
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South Sudan vaccinates health teams in Ebola epidemic

  • The ministry of health’s vaccination campaign, with cooperation from the WHO, will target health care and frontline workers in the high-risk states of Juba, Yei, Yambio and Nimule

NAIROBI: South Sudan will vaccinate key health workers against Ebola close to the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo, which faces a new epidemic, the World Health Organization said Monday.
The ministry of health’s vaccination campaign, with cooperation from the WHO, will target health care and frontline workers in the high-risk states of Juba, Yei, Yambio and Nimule, the UN agency said in a statement.
South Sudan is one of several countries bordering the vast DRC, where the new outbreak of the highly contagious viral disease had since August claimed 271 lives by December 6, according to Congolese Health Minister Oly Ilunga Kalenga.
A total of 2,160 doses of the experimental vaccine rVSV-ZEBOV have been allocated to South Sudan for a program starting on December 19. This trial vaccine is not yet licensed but is considered safe and provided “under the compassionate-use guidelines in response to the ongoing Ebola outbreak in DRC,” the WHO said.
Like neighboring Uganda, where similar measures have been taken for health personnel, South Sudan has declared a state of alert because of the risk that Ebola may be carried into its territory. At present, no cases have been reported, according the WHO.
The experimental vaccine first went on trial during the terrible epidemic of Ebola that ravaged parts of West Africa between the end of 2013 and 2016, at a cost of more than 11,300 lives. The disease spreads through contact with bodily fluids from other people or infected animals.
The vaccine was created by Canadian public health specialists at the National Microbiology Laboratory and is considered highly effective by the WHO, but it works only against the Ebola virus-Zaire strain, confirmed in the outbreak in the DRC.
South Sudan has been torn by civil war for five years in a conflict that has left nearly 400,000 dead. More than four million people — about a third of the population — have fled.
The main belligerents signed a peace accord in September, but the work of humanitarian organizations remains complicated and dangerous.
Participants in the vaccination program have been trained on rVSV-ZEBOV and undertaken a simulation exercise. Meanwhile, the Ebola preparedness contingency plan covers measures ranging from screening travelers, community engagement and provision for safe and dignified funerals, the WHO said.