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Helicopter crashes into New York's East River (VIDEO)

A helicopter crashed into the East River in New York City with five people on board late Tuesday, according to US news reports.

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A helicopter crashed into the East River in New York City with five people on board late Tuesday, according to US news reports.

New York Police Department spokesman Paul Browne said the private Bell 206 Jet Ranger went into the river off 34th Street in midtown Manhattan, CBS reports. It reportedly took off from the 34th Street heliport.

The New York Post reports that the helicopter sank to the bottom upside down within minutes after the crash, at around 3:24 p.m.

Quoting the NYPD, the AP reports that four people — the pilot and three passengers — had been rescued.

CBS New York — which has excellent photos — reports that the two women and a man were taken to hospital, and that divers and dozens of boats were involved in a search for one other passenger, believed to be female.

Officials said the passengers were from Britain, the ABC reports, adding that the pilot had been identified as Paul Dudley.

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The AP spoke to an eyewitness as saying the chopper had lifted about 25 feet off the ground before it dropped into the water without much of a splash:

Joy Garnett and her husband were on the dock waiting to take the East River ferry to Brooklyn when they heard the blades of a helicopter and saw it start to take off from the nearby helipad. She said she saw it do "a funny curlicue."

"I thought, 'Is that some daredevil move?'" she said. "But it was obviously out of control. The body spun around at least two or three times, and then it went down."

The Bell 206 is popular with television stations and air taxi companies as they are light and maneuverable, costing between $700,000 and $1.2 million new, the AP reports.

The Federal Aviation Administration was on the way to investigate the crash.

Helicopters that fly under 1,000 feet are not in contact air traffic controllers and don't file a flight plan. 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/united-states/111004/chopper-crash-east-river-new-york-video