Helicopter Crash Near Florida Airport Kills at Least 1, Officials Say

“The crash appears to be a total loss,” a local fire department said. Three other people who were onboard are unaccounted for.,


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At least one person was killed when a helicopter crashed near a Florida airport on Tuesday, the authorities said. The three others who were onboard remained unaccounted for as of Wednesday morning.

A Sikorsky UH-60 firefighting helicopter, also known as a Black Hawk, crashed into a marsh near Leesburg International Airport during a training exercise at about 4 p.m., the Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement.

Leesburg is about 40 miles northwest of Orlando.

The crash appeared to be a total loss, and no survivors have been found, according the Leesburg Fire Department, which responded to the scene along with the Leesburg Police Department.

One death was confirmed, the fire department said, and crews were on the scene “mitigating the emergency and searching for survivors.”

A photo taken near the crash site showed thick black smoke billowing into the air just beyond what appeared to be the airport’s landing and takeoff areas.

“At some point, some kind of mechanical failure evidently occurred and the helicopter went into a tailspin,” Joe Iozzi of the Leesburg Police Department told Fox 35 Orlando.

The United States Forest Service plowed a line around the crash to prevent any vegetation fires, the fire department said.

The F.A.A. and the National Transportation Safety Board were to begin investigating the crash on Wednesday, officials said.

The episode was the latest fatal helicopter crash this year in the United States.

Five people, including the Czech Republic’s richest man, were killed on a helicopter-skiing excursion in March when their chopper crashed near a glacier in Alaska. In February, three Idaho Army National Guard pilots were killed when their helicopter crashed in bad weather during a routine training mission. About two weeks earlier, a New York Army National Guard Black Hawk helicopter on a routine training mission crashed in a rural area south of Rochester, New York, killing three Guard members.

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