Daughter of British newlyweds killed in Australia helicopter crash says family is ‘heartbroken’

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The daughter of two British citizens who died in a mid-air crash between two helicopters in Australia has said “our family is heartbroken”.

UK newlyweds Ron and Diane Hughes, 65 and 57, have been named among four killed after a mid-air helicopter crash near Sea World in Australia.

The couple had travelled to Australia had travelled to Australia to visit Mr Hughes daughter Jane Manns, her husband Ben Manns and their children.

Jane and Ben Manns said in a statement to 7NEWS: “Our family is heartbroken and we are still trying to contact friends and family to let them know.

“Please respect our privacy at this devastating time.”

A spokesperson for the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office said in a statement: “We are supporting the family of two British nationals who died in Australia and are in contact with the local authorities.”

The crash occurred around 2pm local time (4am GMT) in Main Beach.

The Queensland Police said that “initial investigations” indicate that the collision occurred when one helicopter was taking off and the other was landing.

One of the helicopters was able to safely land on the sandbank, with only five of its six passengers suffering minor injuries.

However, the other helicopter crashed, killing four of those inside, and leaving a further three critically injured.

Police said the other victims included the 40-year-old pilot and a 36-year-old woman from the neighbouring state of New South Wales.

The forensic crash unit is investigating the incident with help from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB).

ATSB chief commissioner Angus Mitchell said it was a “remarkable achievement” there were not more deaths.

He said: “The second helicopter coming in to land has remarkably managed to land upright, and considering the damage that was done to the front left-hand section of that helicopter where the pilot was sitting, that’s a remarkable achievement.

“Whilst it has been very tragic that four people have lost their lives and many families are in mourning, we could have had a far worse situation.”

Mr Mitchell said the “evidence collection phase” of the ATSB’s investigation would take about six to eight weeks.

He added: “A final report will be published at the conclusion of the investigation, however, should any critical safety issues be identified at any stage during the course of the investigation, the ATSB will immediately notify relevant parties so appropriate safety action can be taken.”

Sea World Helicopters, the helicopter company involved, said it would be closed “until further notice”.

A placeholder message on the company’s website said: “Sea World Helicopters is devastated by the tragic accident which happened on the Gold Coast on the 2nd January.

“Our deepest sympathy and condolences go out to all those involved over this very sad time. We are closed until further notice and will refund all tickets purchased.”

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Source: independent.co.uk