3 dead, 4 injured in Grand Canyon chopper crash

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A helicopter carrying at least seven people crashed in the Grand Canyon Saturday evening.

The accident took place at around 5.20pm in Grand Canyon West, northwestern Arizona, said Hualapai Nation police chief Francis Bradley.

Authorities said the four were level one trauma patients.

Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Allen Kenitzer said the Eurocopter EC130 crashed in unknown circumstances and sustained heavy damage. Federal authorities are expected to investigate the incident.

He added that flying in the Grand Canyon can be treacherous simply because of the number of helicopters there.

"First responders had to be flown in and walk to the crash site", he said.

He earlier told U.S. media that the local terrain had hampered rescue efforts overnight.

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National Weather Service meteorologists in Flagstaff and Phoenix said wind conditions were an estimated 16 kilometres per hour with gusts of 32 kilometres per hour around the time of the crash. He said he heard gasps and went to check out the commotion coming from about 600 feet (183 meters) below.

'Our pilot and other pilots all started running, ' he said.

"I saw these two ladies run out of it, and then an explosion".

Mr Fujimoto said he was left numbed by what he had seen. "By the time they did, most of the fire was out".

Papillon, whose website says it is the longest-running helicopter touring company, was founded in 1965 by Elling Halvorson and celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2015. The pilot and five passengers died.

KPHO reported the FAA and the NTSB were on the scene.

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