Police in New Zealand have released the names of the victims who were killed when their helicopter crashed into a crevasse on the Fox Glacier. Among the seven dead are two British couples.
Two Australians and the pilot of the helicopter have also been killed. The British victims are Andrew Virco, 50, and his partner Katharine Walker, 51, from Cambridge, and Nigel Charlton, 66, and his wife Cynthia, 70, from Hampshire. The two Australians killed in the crash are Leang Sovannmony, 27, and Josephine Gibson, 29. The pilot, Mitch Gameren, 28, was from Queenstown, New Zealand.
Paramedics and rescue coordinators who were winched down to the crash site have found no survivors. "It is believed two were Australians and four were from the United Kingdom. Formal identification of those people will take some time. Police have been liaising with the embassies of the countries concerned to ensure the next of kin are advised of the situation," police said.
Meanwhile, a UK Foreign Office spokesman was quoted as saying by The Guardian: "We are providing consular assistance to their families at this difficult time."
"Fox Heliservices' thoughts are with the families of the passengers and pilot. The pilot was a very valued member of our team. The New Zealand Police and Civil Aviation Authority have taken over the investigation," Fox Glacier Heliservices, which runs Alpine Adventures that organised the flight, said in a statement. The pilot was flying a single-engine Squirrel helicopter.
Bad weather has made the operation to recover the bodies extremely difficult, but paramedics and the rescue team were able to recover three bodies from the crash site. The operation is "extremely challenging and the safety of those working at the scene is of paramount importance," a Tasman police spokesman said.
The police are investigating the cause of the accident. Fox Glacier located on the country's west coast of South Island is a popular tourist destination.