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Crew found alive after chopper crashes off New Zealand

By Clyde Hughes
Crew found alive after chopper crashes off New Zealand
Authorities rescued three members of a helicopter crew after their aircraft went down off the New Zealand coast. File Photo by Mohammad Kheirkhah/UPI | License Photo

April 23 (UPI) -- A helicopter crew who went down with their aircraft off New Zealand has been found alive, officials said Tuesday.

The chopper, owned by Southern Lakes Helicopter, had been traveling near the Auckland Islands for a medical evacuation off a fishing vessel but never reached its destination. It carried two pilots and a medic.

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The company reported the helicopter missing after losing contact late Monday near Yule Island, at the northern end of Auckland Island. The chopper had flown from Invercargill on New Zealand's South Island to make the medical trip.

A fishing boat found the helicopter's wreckage near the Auckland Island early Tuesday, but there was no sign of the crew. Southern Lakes owner Richard Hayes found the survivors on a beach a short time later.

"A rescue helicopter located the group walking around on a beach on the northeastern side of Auckland Island wearing cold water immersion suits," Maritime New Zealand said. "The group is safe and well. The helicopter that found them is transporting them to Enderby Island where there is shelter before returning to mainland New Zealand."

Officials are investigating what happened to the helicopter and how the crew reached the beach.

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